A small-molecule inhibitor of the BRCA2-RAD51 interaction modulates RAD51 assembly and potentiates DNA damage-induced cell death

Duncan E. Scott, Nicola J. Francis-Newton, May E. Marsh, Anthony G. Coyne, Gerhard Fischer, Tommaso Moschetti, Andrew R. Bayly, Timothy D. Sharpe, Kalina T. Haas, Lorraine Barber, Chiara R. Valenzano, Rajavel Srinivasan, David J. Huggins, Miyoung Lee, Amy Emery, Bryn Hardwick, Matthias Ehebauer, Claudio Dagostin, Alessandro Esposito, Luca Pellegrini, Trevor Perrior, Grahame McKenzie, Tom L. Blundell, Marko Hyvönen, John Skidmore, Ashok R. Venkitaraman, Chris Abell

Cell Chemical Biology, Online now , (2021)
DOI: j.chembiol.2021.02.006
Pubmed: 33662256
PDB coordinates:
6TV3 (3D view), 6TWR (3D view), 6TW4 (3D view), 6XTW (3D view), 6TW9 (3D view)

Lay Summary

BRCA2 is a protein that helps the body fix broken DNA. It makes sure RAD51, works when the cell needs to fix broken DNA. Scientists made a new drug candidate, CAM833,  that stops BRCA2 and RAD51 from working together. It can stop cancer cells from growing, especially when used together with other chemicals.


BRCA2 controls RAD51 recombinase during homologous DNA recombination (HDR) through eight evolutionarily conserved BRC repeats, which individually engage RAD51 via the motif Phe-x-x-Ala. Using structure-guided molecular design, templated on a monomeric thermostable chimera between human RAD51 and archaeal RadA, we identify CAM833, a 529 Da orthosteric inhibitor of RAD51:BRC with a Kd of 366 nM. The quinoline of CAM833 occupies a hotspot, the Phe-binding pocket on RAD51 and the methyl of the substituted α-methylbenzyl group occupies the Ala-binding pocket. In cells, CAM833 diminishes formation of damage-induced RAD51 nuclear foci; inhibits RAD51 molecular clustering, suppressing extended RAD51 filament assembly; potentiates cytotoxicity by ionizing radiation, augmenting 4N cell-cycle arrest and apoptotic cell death and works with poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP)1 inhibitors to suppress growth in BRCA2-wildtype cells. Thus, chemical inhibition of the protein-protein interaction between BRCA2 and RAD51 disrupts HDR and potentiates DNA damage-induced cell death, with implications for cancer therapy.

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