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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 20;8(12):e85859. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085859. eCollection 2013.

Tousled-like kinase-dependent phosphorylation of Rad9 plays a role in cell cycle progression and G2/M checkpoint exit.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Biology and Genetics, Cancer Research Institute, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
  • 2Division of Cancer Biology and Genetics, Cancer Research Institute, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Genomic integrity is preserved by checkpoints, which act to delay cell cycle progression in the presence of DNA damage or replication stress. The heterotrimeric Rad9-Rad1-Hus1 (9-1-1) complex is a PCNA-like clamp that is loaded onto DNA at structures resulting from damage and is important for initiating and maintaining the checkpoint response. Rad9 possesses a C-terminal tail that is phosphorylated constitutively and in response to cell cycle position and DNA damage. Previous studies have identified tousled-like kinase 1 (TLK1) as a kinase that may modify Rad9. Here we show that Rad9 is phosphorylated in a TLK-dependent manner in vitro and in vivo, and that T355 within the C-terminal tail is the primary targeted residue. Phosphorylation of Rad9 at T355 is quickly reduced upon exposure to ionizing radiation before returning to baseline later in the damage response. We also show that TLK1 and Rad9 interact constitutively, and that this interaction is enhanced in chromatin-bound Rad9 at later stages of the damage response. Furthermore, we demonstrate via siRNA-mediated depletion that TLK1 is required for progression through S-phase in normally cycling cells, and that cells lacking TLK1 display a prolonged G2/M arrest upon exposure to ionizing radiation, a phenotype that is mimicked by over-expression of a Rad9-T355A mutant. Given that TLK1 has previously been shown to be transiently inactivated upon phosphorylation by Chk1 in response to DNA damage, we propose that TLK1 and Chk1 act in concert to modulate the phosphorylation status of Rad9, which in turn serves to regulate the DNA damage response.

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