Several established cancer treatments take advantage of the fact that cancer cells are often more sensitive to DNA damage from chemical and radiation treatment than non-cancer cells. One shortcoming of this approach, however, is that indiscriminant DNA damage can have toxic effects on non-cancer cells, which makes more specific therapeutics that directly target individual DNA repair proteins highly valuable. Recently chemotherapeutics that block activity of the DNA repair protein poly ADP ribose polymerase have shown great promise as more selective genomic destabilization agents. This proposal seeks to extend the range of selective chemotherapeutic DNA repair targets by developing small-molecules that block the critical interface that links two DNA repair complexes, the Fanconi Anemia core complex and the Bloom dissolvasome. We have used X-ray crystallographic, biochemical, and cell biological approaches to reveal the critical nature of this higher-order complex for cellular genomic stability. In this proposal, we will use a high-throughput chemical screen to identify protein interaction inhibitors that disrupt the Fanconi Anemia core complex/Bloom dissolvasome supercomplex. Classical biochemical and structural aproaches will be used to assess the potency and mechanisms of action of the inhibitors and to drive future rational lead improvement. The chemotherapeutic potential of the lead compounds will be determined by measuring their effects on the specific types of DNA damage repaired by the supercomplex and by assessing whether they selectively inhibit growth of cancerous human cell lines.

Public Health Relevance

Recent cancer therapeutic advances have focused on suppressing specific DNA repair pathways in cells since some cancer cells are hypersensitive to such treatment. Our project tests a newly discovered DNA repair pathway as a possible target for the development of novel chemotherapeutics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
Program Officer
Arya, Suresh
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Bhattacharyya, Basudeb; Keck, James L (2014) Grip it and rip it: structural mechanisms of DNA helicase substrate binding and unwinding. Protein Sci 23:1498-507