BRCA1-associated structural variations are a consequence of polymerase theta-mediated end-joining

J A Kamp, R van Schendel, I W Dilweg, M Tijsterman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
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Failure to preserve the integrity of the genome is a hallmark of cancer. Recent studies have revealed that loss of the capacity to repair DNA breaks via homologous recombination (HR) results in a mutational profile termed BRCAness. The enzymatic activity that repairs HR substrates in BRCA-deficient conditions to produce this profile is currently unknown. We here show that the mutational landscape of BRCA1 deficiency in C. elegans closely resembles that of BRCA1-deficient tumours. We identify polymerase theta-mediated end-joining (TMEJ) to be responsible: knocking out polq-1 suppresses the accumulation of deletions and tandem duplications in brc-1 and brd-1 animals. We find no additional back-up repair in HR and TMEJ compromised animals; non-homologous end-joining does not affect BRCAness. The notion that TMEJ acts as an alternative to HR, promoting the genome alteration of HR-deficient cells, supports the idea that polymerase theta is a promising therapeutic target for HR-deficient tumours.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3615
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


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