PROJECT 3 ? STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY OF DNA DEAMINASES IN BREAST CANCER ABSTRACT The hallmark activity of the APOBEC family of enzymes is deamination of cytosines to uracils (C-to-U) in single-stranded (ss)DNA. This editing activity normally functions in the innate immune response by contributing to virus and transposon restriction. However, recent studies by our labs and many others strongly indicate that APOBEC3B (A3B) is a major source of genomic mutations that drive the progression of multiple human cancers and the development of drug resistance. This finding ? that a cellular enzyme actively introduces mutations in cancer ? is in stark contrast to a more conventional view, in which mutations in cancer are caused by DNA damage from exogenous sources or errors introduced during DNA replication or repair. Because A3B is not an essential enzyme for life, it is a promising target for anti-cancer therapies. Thus, our Program's overarching hypothesis is that A3B inhibition, as an adjuvant to primary treatment options, will help to prevent detrimental mutation-driven outcomes such as drug resistance and metastasis. However, despite its strong relevance to cancer as a potential therapeutic target, it is not fully known how A3B engages ssDNA substrates, how it achieves high selectivity for ssDNA over RNA, or how its DNA deaminase activity is regulated in cells. Moreover, it is not known how related enzymes such as APOBEC3H (A3H) and APOBEC3F (A3F) with different compositions of ssDNA-binding residues engage similar target sequences. In Project 3, we have started to address these issues by solving multiple A3B catalytic domain crystal structures and, recently, achieving co-crystal structures of ssDNA bound to a variant of the A3B catalytic domain as well as to the related enzyme APOBEC3A (A3A).
Aim 1 will build on this knowledge to further delineate the global ssDNA binding mechanism of A3B and A3H.
Aim 2 will examine the local dinucleotide targeting mechanism and possible modes of inhibition of the APOBEC family of enzymes. Our goals are to gain deeper mechanistic understandings of the pathogenic APOBEC-mediated ssDNA cytosine deamination process and to establish a solid foundation for future development of APOBEC inhibitors for cancer therapies. These studies will propel our Program toward achieving its long-term goal of inhibiting APOBEC mutagenesis in breast cancer, thereby slowing tumor evolution and improving overall therapeutic outcomes for patients.

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PROJECT 3 ? STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY OF DNA DEAMINASES IN BREAST CANCER NARRATIVE We are using structural biology approaches to study the atomic structures of human APOBEC enzymes and how they interact with DNA substrates. Because APOBEC enzymes have dominant roles in tumor evolution and drug resistance in multiple cancers, our research will provide critical information about how these processes may be stopped to improve the overall efficacy of cancer therapies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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