RAD51AP1 loss attenuates colorectal cancer stem cell renewal and sensitizes to chemotherapy

Allison E. Bridges, Sabarish Ramachandran, Kavin Tamizhmani, Utkarsh Parwal, Adrienne Lester, Pragya Rajpurohit, Daley S. Morera, Sarrah L. Hasanali, Pachiappan Arjunan, Ravirajsinh N. Jedeja, Nikhil Patel, Pamela M. Martin, Hasan Korkaya, Nagendra Singh, Santhakumar Manicassamy, Puttur D. Prasad, Vinata B. Lokeshwar, Bal L. Lokeshwar, Vadivel Ganapathy, Muthusamy Thangaraju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


DNA damage, induced by either chemical carcinogens or environmental pollutants, plays an important role in the initiation of colorectal cancer. DNA repair processes, however, are involved in both protecting against cancer formation, and also contributing to cancer development, by ensuring genomic integrity and promoting the efficient DNA repair in tumor cells, respectively. Although DNA repair pathways have been well exploited in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers, the role of DNA repair processes and their therapeutic efficacy in colorectal cancer is yet to be appreciably explored. To understand the role of DNA repair, especially homologous recombination (HR), in chemical carcinogen-induced colorectal cancer growth, we unraveled the role of RAD51AP1 (RAD51-associated protein 1), a protein involved in HR, in genotoxic carcinogen (azoxymethane, AOM)-induced colorectal cancer. Although AOM treatment alone significantly increased RAD51AP1 expression, the combination of AOM and dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) treatment dramatically increased by several folds. RAD51AP1 expression is found in mouse colonic crypt and proliferating cells. RAD51AP1 expression is significantly increased in majority of human colorectal cancer tissues, including BRAF/KRAS mutant colorectal cancer, and associated with reduced treatment response and poor prognosis. Rad51ap1-deficient mice were protected against AOM/DSS-induced colorectal cancer. These observations were recapitulated in a genetically engineered mouse model of colorectal cancer (ApcMin/+). Furthermore, chemotherapy-resistant colorectal cancer is associated with increased RAD51AP1 expression. This phenomenon is associated with reduced cell proliferation and colorectal cancer stem cell (CRCSC) self-renewal. Overall, our studies provide evidence that RAD51AP1 could be a novel diagnostic marker for colorectal cancer and a potential therapeutic target for colorectal cancer prevention and treatment. Implications: This study provides first in vivo evidence that RAD51AP1 plays a critical role in colorectal cancer growth and drug resistance by regulating CRCSC self-renewal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1486-1497
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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