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Nature. 2001 Apr 12;410(6830):842-7.

The ATM-Chk2-Cdc25A checkpoint pathway guards against radioresistant DNA synthesis.

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Institute of Cancer Bioloyg, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark.


When exposed to ionizing radiation (IR), eukaryotic cells activate checkpoint pathways to delay the progression of the cell cycle. Defects in the IR-induced S-phase checkpoint cause 'radioresistant DNA synthesis', a phenomenon that has been identified in cancer-prone patients suffering from ataxia-telangiectasia, a disease caused by mutations in the ATM gene. The Cdc25A phosphatase activates the cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) needed for DNA synthesis, but becomes degraded in response to DNA damage or stalled replication. Here we report a functional link between ATM, the checkpoint signalling kinase Chk2/Cds1 (Chk2) and Cdc25A, and implicate this mechanism in controlling the S-phase checkpoint. We show that IR-induced destruction of Cdc25A requires both ATM and the Chk2-mediated phosphorylation of Cdc25A on serine 123. An IR-induced loss of Cdc25A protein prevents dephosphorylation of Cdk2 and leads to a transient blockade of DNA replication. We also show that tumour-associated Chk2 alleles cannot bind or phosphorylate Cdc25A, and that cells expressing these Chk2 alleles, elevated Cdc25A or a Cdk2 mutant unable to undergo inhibitory phosphorylation (Cdk2AF) fail to inhibit DNA synthesis when irradiated. These results support Chk2 as a candidate tumour suppressor, and identify the ATM-Chk2-Cdc25A-Cdk2 pathway as a genomic integrity checkpoint that prevents radioresistant DNA synthesis.

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