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A nucleolytic lupus autoantibody is toxic to BRCA2-deficient cancer cells

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Cancer cells with defects in DNA repair are highly susceptible to DNA-damaging agents, but delivery of therapeutic agents into cell nuclei can be challenging. A subset of lupus autoantibodies is associated with nucleolytic activity, and some of these antibodies are capable of nuclear penetration. We hypothesized that such antibodies might have potential as therapeutic agents targeted towards DNA repair-deficient malignancies. We identified the lupus autoantibody 5C6 as a cell-penetrating nucleolytic antibody and found that 5C6 has a differential effect on a matched pair of BRCA2-proficient and deficient DLD1 colon cancer cells. 5C6 selectively induced γH2AX in, and suppressed the growth of, the BRCA2-deficient cells. These findings demonstrate the potential utility of 5C6 in targeted therapy for DNA repair-deficient malignancies and strengthen the rationale for studies of additional lupus autoantibodies in order to identify the best candidates for development as therapeutic agents. In addition, the toxic effect of 5C6 on BRCA2-deficient cells provides further support for the hypothesis that some lupus autoantibodies contribute to the lower risk of specific cancers associated with systemic lupus erythematosus.

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