High-grade epithelial ovarian carcinomas containing mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) homologous recombination (HR) genes are sensitive to platinum-based chemotherapy and PARP inhibitors (PARPi), while restoration of HR function due to secondary mutations in BRCA1/2 has been recognized as an important resistance mechanism. We sequenced core HR pathway genes in 12 pairs of pretreatment and postprogression tumor biopsy samples collected from patients in ARIEL2 Part 1, a phase II study of the PARPi rucaparib as treatment for platinum-sensitive, relapsed ovarian carcinoma. In 6 of 12 pretreatment biopsies, a truncation mutation in BRCA1, RAD51C, or RAD51D was identified. In five of six paired postprogression biopsies, one or more secondary mutations restored the open reading frame. Four distinct secondary mutations and spatial heterogeneity were observed for RAD51C. In vitro complementation assays and a patient-derived xenograft, as well as predictive molecular modeling, confirmed that resistance to rucaparib was associated with secondary mutations. Significance: Analyses of primary and secondary mutations in RAD51C and RAD51D provide evidence for these primary mutations in conferring PARPi sensitivity and secondary mutations as a mechanism of acquired PARPi resistance. PARPi resistance due to secondary mutations underpins the need for early delivery of PARPi therapy and for combination strategies.
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