• Biological analysis of the in-vitro effects of homologous recombination inhibition and its use in cancer treatment through synthetic lethality
  • Balboni, Andrea <1992>


  • CHIM/08 Chimica farmaceutica


  • Synthetic lethality represents an anticancer strategy that targets tumor specific gene defects. One of the most studied application is the use of PARP inhibitors (e.g. olaparib) in BRCA1/2-less cancer cells. In BRCA2-defective tumors, olaparib (OLA) inhibits DNA single-strand break repair, while BRCA2 mutations hamper homologous recombination (HR) repair. The simultaneous impairment of those pathways leads BRCA-less cells to death by synthetic lethality. The projects described in this thesis were aimed at extending the use of OLA in cancer cells that do not carry a mutation in BRCA2 by combining this drug with compounds that could mimic a BRCA-less environment via HR inhibition. We demonstrated the effectiveness of our “fully small-molecule induced synthetic lethality” by using two different approaches. In the direct approach (Project A), we identified a series of neo-synthesized compounds (named RAD51-BRCA2 disruptors) that mimic BRCA2 mutations by disrupting the RAD51-BRCA2 interaction and thus the HR pathway. Compound ARN 24089 inhibited HR in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line and triggered synthetic lethality by synergizing with OLA. Interestingly, the observed synthetic lethality was triggered by tackling two biochemically different mechanisms: enzyme inhibition (PARP) and protein-protein disruption (RAD51-BRCA2). In the indirect approach (Project B), we inhibited HR by interfering with the cellular metabolism through inhibition of LDH activity. The obtained data suggest an LDH-mediated control on HR that can be exerted by regulating either the energy supply needed to this repair mechanism or the expression level of genes involved in DNA repair. LDH inhibition also succeeded in increasing the efficiency of OLA in BRCA-proficient cell lines. Although preliminary, these results highlight a complex relationship between metabolic reactions and the control of DNA integrity. Both the described projects proved that our “fully small-molecule-induced synthetic lethality” approach could be an innovative approach to unmet oncological needs.


  • 2021-03-22


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Balboni, Andrea (2021) Biological analysis of the in-vitro effects of homologous recombination inhibition and its use in cancer treatment through synthetic lethality, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biotecnologiche, biocomputazionali, farmaceutiche e farmacologiche , 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/9587.