PARP inhibition enhances tumor cell–intrinsic immunity in ERCC1-deficient non–small cell lung cancer

Authors: Roman M. Chabanon, Gareth Muirhead, Dragomir B. Krastev, Julien Adam, Daphné Morel, Marlène Garrido, Andrew Lamb, Clémence Hénon, Nicolas Dorvault, Mathieu Rouanne, Rebecca Marlow, Ilirjana Bajrami, Marta Llorca Cardeñosa, Asha Konde, Benjamin Besse, Alan Ashworth, Stephen J. Pettitt, Syed Haider, Aurélien Marabelle, Andrew N.J. Tutt, Jean-Charles Soria, Christopher J. Lord, Sophie Postel-Vinay


The cyclic GMP-AMP synthase/stimulator of IFN genes (cGAS/STING) pathway detects cytosolic DNA to activate innate immune responses. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) selectively target cancer cells with DNA repair deficiencies such as those caused by BRCA1 mutations or ERCC1 defects. Using isogenic cell lines and patient-derived samples, we showed that ERCC1-defective non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells exhibit an enhanced type I IFN transcriptomic signature and that low ERCC1 expression correlates with increased lymphocytic infiltration. We demonstrated that clinical PARPi, including olaparib and rucaparib, have cell-autonomous immunomodulatory properties in ERCC1-defective NSCLC and BRCA1-defective triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. Mechanistically, PARPi generated cytoplasmic chromatin fragments with characteristics of micronuclei; these were found to activate cGAS/STING, downstream type I IFN signaling, and CCL5 secretion. Importantly, these effects were suppressed in PARP1-null TNBC cells, suggesting that this phenotype resulted from an on-target effect of PARPi on PARP1. PARPi also potentiated IFN-γ–induced PD-L1 expression in NSCLC cell lines and in fresh patient tumor cells; this effect was enhanced in ERCC1-deficient contexts. Our data provide a preclinical rationale for using PARPi as immunomodulatory agents in appropriately molecularly selected populations.

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2019; 129 (3): 1211