Inhibiting Translesion DNA Synthesis as an Approach to Combat Drug Resistance to DNA Damaging Agents

Jung-Suk Choi, Cleveland State University
Seol Kim, Cleveland State University
Edward Motea, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Anthony J. Berdis, Cleveland State University

This work was supported by grants to AJB from the Department of Defense (W81XWH-13-1-0238), Cleveland State University (Faculty Innovation Award and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program), the Glide Innovation Fund, and the Ohio Third Frontier Foundation.


Anti-cancer agents exert therapeutic effects by damaging DNA. Unfortunately, DNA polymerases can effectively replicate the formed DNA lesions to cause drug resistance and create more aggressive cancers. To understand this process at the cellular level, we developed an artificial nucleoside that visualizes the replication of damaged DNA to identify cells that acquire drug resistance through this mechanism. Visualization is achieved using "click" chemistry to covalently attach azide-containing fluorophores to the ethynyl group present on the nucleoside analog after its incorporation opposite damaged DNA. Flow cytometry and microscopy techniques demonstrate that the extent of nucleotide incorporation into genomic DNA is enhanced by treatment with DNA damaging agents. In addition, this nucleoside analog inhibits translesion DNA synthesis and synergizes the therapeutic activity of certain anticancer agents such as temozolomide. The combined diagnostic and therapeutic activities of this synthetic nucleoside analog represent a new paradigm in personalized medicine.