ATF6-Mediated Signaling Contributes to PARP Inhibitor Resistance in Ovarian Cancer

Alexandra McMellen, Tomomi M. Yamamoto, Lubna Qamar, Brooke E. Sanders, Lily L. Nguyen, Daniela Ortiz Chavez, Jaidev Bapat, Amber Berning, Miriam D. Post, Joshua Johnson, Kian Behbakht, Elmar Nurmemmedov, Edward B. Chuong, Benjamin G. Bitler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is the deadliest ovarian cancer histotype due in-part to the lack of therapeutic options for chemotherapy-resistant disease. PARP inhibitors (PARPi) represent a targeted treatment. However, PARPi resistance is becoming a significant clinical challenge. There is an urgent need to overcome resistance mechanisms to extend disease-free intervals. We established isogeneic PARPi-sensitive and -resistant HGSOC cell lines. In three PARPi-resistant models, there is a significant increase in AP-1 transcriptional activity and DNA repair capacity. Using RNA-sequencing and an shRNA screen, we identified activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6) as a mediator of AP-1 activity, DNA damage response, and PARPi resistance. In publicly available datasets, ATF6 expression is elevated in HGSOC and portends a poorer recurrence-free survival. In a cohort of primary HGSOC tumors, higher ATF6 expression significantly correlated to PARPi resistance. In PARPi-resistant cell lines and a PDX model, inhibition of a known ATF6 regulator, p38, attenuated AP-1 activity and RAD51 foci formation, enhanced DNA damage, significantly inhibited tumor burden, and reduced accumulation of nuclear ATF6. Implications: This study highlights that a novel p38-ATF6-mediated AP-1 signaling axis contributes to PARPi resistance and provides a clinical rationale for combining PARPi and AP-1 signaling inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


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