Inhibition of the translesion synthesis polymerase REV1 exploits replication gaps as a cancer vulnerability

Sumeet Nayak, Jennifer A. Calvo, Ke Cong, Min Peng, Emily Berthiaume, Jessica Jackson, Angela M. Zaino, Alessandro Vindigni, M. Kyle Hadden, Sharon B. Cantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The replication stress response, which serves as an anticancer barrier, is activated not only by DNA damage and replication obstacles but also oncogenes, thus obscuring how cancer evolves. Here, we identify that oncogene expression, similar to other replication stress–inducing agents, induces single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) gaps that reduce cell fitness. DNA fiber analysis and electron microscopy reveal that activation of translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases restricts replication fork slowing, reversal, and fork degradation without inducing replication gaps despite the continuation of replication during stress. Consistent with gap suppression (GS) being fundamental to cancer, we demonstrate that a small-molecule inhibitor targeting the TLS factor REV1 not only disrupts DNA replication and cancer cell fitness but also synergizes with gap-inducing therapies such as inhibitors of ATR or Wee1. Our work illuminates that GS during replication is critical for cancer cell fitness and therefore a targetable vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaaz7808
JournalScience Advances
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 2020


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