Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

RAD51 is a key protein in the homologous recombination (HR) pathway of DNA double-strand break repair, and HR represents a novel target for cancer therapy. Because imatinib (Gleevec) has been reported to reduce RAD51 protein levels, we tested the clonogenic survival for RT112, H1299, PANC1, and PC3 tumor cell lines of varying p53 status and normal GM05757 normal fibroblasts after exposure to single agent imatinib (0-20 micromol/L; 0-72 hours). We also combined imatinib with DNA damaging agents that are toxic to RAD51-deficient cells, including ionizing radiation, gemcitabine, and mitomycin C. We observed decreased nuclear expression and chromatin binding of RAD51 protein following imatinib treatment. Imatinib also resulted in decreased error-free HR as determined by a flow cytometry-based integrated direct repeat-green fusion protein reporter system; this correlated to reduced RAD51 expression. Clonogenic survival experiments revealed increased cell kill for imatinib-treated cells in combination with ionizing radiation, gemcitabine, and mitomycin C, due in part to mitotic catastrophe. In experiments using imatinib and gemcitabine, tumor cell lines were sensitized to a greater extent than normal fibroblasts. This preservation of the therapeutic ratio was confirmed in vivo using PC3 xenograft growth delay and intestinal crypt cell clonogenic assays. HR inhibition may be an additional mechanism of action for the chemosensitization and radiosensitization of solid tumors with imatinib with preservation of the therapeutic ratio.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cancer Ther

Publication Date





203 - 213


Animals, Benzamides, Cell Line, Tumor, Humans, Imatinib Mesylate, Male, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Nude, Mitosis, Neoplasms, Piperazines, Pyrimidines, Rad51 Recombinase, Radiation Tolerance, Recombination, Genetic, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays