Étudiante-chercheuse étoile August 2013

Mihaela Robu

PhD student in Molecular Biology
Université Laval

Award-winning publication: Role of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 in the removal of UV-induced DNA lesions by nucleotide excision repair

Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(5), 1658-63.


"The incidence of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation is equivalent to the incidences of all other cancers combined. Understanding the causes of skin cancer in an effort to limit its development and facilitate its treatment is therefore critical. In this study, I elucidate the entirely new role of PARP-1, one of the enzymes activated by UV-induced DNA damage, in nucleotide excision repair (NER)—the only repair process in which the role of PARP-1 remained unknown. My results show that the inhibition of the enzyme's activity (or depletion) radically slows the repair of NER damage. Explaining the mechanism, which is vital to the development of skin cancer therapies, could lead to several medical applications."

Since we are all exposed to UV radiation, understanding skin cancer prevention at the cellular and molecular levels is essential. By demonstrating the role of PARP-1 in repairing UV damage and therefore preventing cells from becoming cancerous, Mihaela Robu's work promises new therapeutic approaches for patients. For example, molecules that stimulate PARP-1 activity could be added to sunscreens to protect skin cells or, conversely, protein inhibitors could stop the DNA damage repair of cancerous cells and enhance the effectiveness of cancer therapies.