DNA polymerase theta (Polθ) is a specialized A-family DNA polymerase that functions in processes such as translesion synthesis (TLS), DNA double-strand break repair and DNA replication timing. Overexpression of POLQ, the gene encoding Polθ, is a prognostic marker for an adverse outcome in a wide range of human cancers. While increased Polθ dosage was recently suggested to promote survival of homologous recombination (HR)-deficient cancer cells, it remains unclear whether POLQ overexpression could be also beneficial to HR-proficient cancer cells.
By performing a short interfering (si) RNA screen in which genes encoding druggable proteins were knocked down in Polθ-overexpressing cells as a means to uncover genetic vulnerabilities associated with POLQ overexpression, we could not identify genes that were essential for viability in Polθ-overexpressing cells in normal growth conditions. We also showed that, upon external DNA replication stress, Polθ expression promotes cell survival and limits genetic instability. Finally, we report that POLQ expression correlates with the expression of a set of HR genes in breast, lung and colorectal cancers. Collectively, our data suggest that Polθ upregulation, besides its importance for survival of HR deficient cancer cells, may be crucial also for HR-proficient cells to better tolerate DNA replication stress, as part of a global gene deregulation response, including HR genes.
- Received March 9, 2016.
- Accepted September 2, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.