The genome is continuously attacked by a variety of agents that cause DNA damage. Recognition of DNA lesions activates the cellular DNA damage response (DDR), which comprises a network of signal transduction pathways to maintain genome integrity. In response to severe DNA damage, cells undergo apoptosis to avoid transformation into tumour cells, or alternatively, the cells enter permanent cell cycle arrest, called senescence. Most tumour cells have defects in pathways leading to DNA repair or apoptosis. In addition, apoptosis could be counteracted by nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), the main anti-apoptotic transcription factor in the DDR. Despite the high clinical relevance, the interplay of the DDR pathways is poorly understood. For therapeutic purposes DNA damage signalling processes are induced to induce apoptosis in tumour cells. However, the efficiency of radio- and chemotherapy is strongly hampered by cell survival pathways in tumour cells. In this study logical modelling was performed to facilitate understanding of the complexity of the signal transduction networks in the DDR and to provide cancer treatment options.
Our comprehensive discrete logical model provided new insights into the dynamics of the DDR in human epithelial tumours. We identified new mechanisms by which the cell regulates the dynamics of the activation of the tumour suppressor p53 and NF-κB. Simulating therapeutic intervention by agents causing DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs) or DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) we identified candidate target proteins for sensitization of carcinomas to therapeutic intervention. Further, we enlightened the DDR in different genetic diseases, and by failure mode analysis we defined molecular defects putatively contributing to carcinogenesis.
By logic modelling we identified candidate target proteins that could be suitable for radio- and chemotherapy, and contributes to the design of more effective therapies.