Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) is a common, aggressive, treatment-resistant cancer with a high recurrence rate and mortality, but the mechanism of treatment resistance remains unclear. Here we describe a mechanism where the AAA-ATPase TRIP13 promotes treatment resistance. Overexpression of TRIP13 in non-malignant cells results in malignant transformation. High expression of TRIP13 in SCCHN leads to aggressive, treatment-resistant tumors and enhanced repair of DNA damage. Using mass spectrometry, we identify DNA-PKcs complex proteins that mediate nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), as TRIP13-binding partners. Using repair-deficient reporter systems, we show that TRIP13 promotes NHEJ, even when homologous recombination is intact. Importantly, overexpression of TRIP13 sensitizes SCCHN to an inhibitor of DNA-PKcs. Thus, this study defines a new mechanism of treatment resistance in SCCHN and underscores the importance of targeting NHEJ to overcome treatment failure in SCCHN and potentially in other cancers that overexpress TRIP13.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)