Targeting aberrant DNA double-strand break repair in triple-negative breast cancer with alpha-particle emitter radiolabeled anti-EGFR antibody

Hong Song, Mohammad Hedayati, Robert F. Hobbs, Chunbo Shao, Frank Bruchertseifer, Alfred Morgenstern, Theodore L. DeWeese, George Sgouros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The higher potential efficacy of alpha-particle radiopharmaceutical therapy lies in the 3- to 8-fold greater relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of alpha particles relative to photon or beta-particle radiation. This greater RBE, however, also applies to normal tissue, thereby reducing the potential advantage of high RBE. As alpha particles typically cause DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), targeting tumors that are defective in DSB repair effectively increases the RBE, yielding a secondary, RBE-based differentiation between tumor and normal tissue that is complementary to conventional, receptor-mediated tumor targeting. In some triplenegative breast cancers (TNBC; ER - /PR - /HER-2 - ), germline mutation in BRCA-1, a key gene in homologous recombination DSB repair, predisposes patients to early onset of breast cancer. These patients have few treatment options once the cancer has metastasized. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of alpha-particle emitter, 213Bi-labeled anti-EGF receptor antibody, cetuximab, in BRCA-1-defective TNBC. 213Bi-cetuximab was found to be significantly more effective in the BRCA-1-mutated TNBC cell line HCC1937 than BRCA-1- competent TNBC cell MDA-MB-231. siRNA knockdown of BRCA-1 or DNA-dependent protein kinase, catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), a key gene in non-homologous end-joining DSB repair pathway, also sensitized TNBC cells to 213Bi-cetuximab. Furthermore, the small-molecule inhibitor of DNA-PKcs, NU7441, sensitized BRCA-1-competent TNBC cells to alpha-particle radiation. Immunofluorescent staining of γ-H2AX foci and comet assay confirmed that enhanced RBE is caused by impaired DSB repair. These data offer a novel strategy for enhancing conventional receptor-mediated targeting with an additional, potentially synergistic radiobiological targeting that could be applied to TNBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2043-2054
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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