In a paper published in Cell Reports, Deshmukh lab identified a previously unappreciated role of Dicer in the repair of damaged DNA in the developing brain. While Dicer is well known to be important for microRNA biogenesis, a direct role of Dicer in DNA damage response was recently identified. Swahari et. al show that this role of Dicer is critical for resolving the endogenous DNA damage that occurs in the rapidly dividing cells of the developing brain. They found that deletion of Dicer resulted in the accumulation of DNA damage and neurodegeneration. Importantly, they found that this function of Dicer was also essential for brain tumors. Deletion of Dicer in a mouse model of medulloblastoma resulted in decreased tumor load as well as an increased sensitivity to chemotherapy. These results highlight the potential of Dicer inhibition as a strategy for brain tumor therapy.
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