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Genetics. 2003 Mar;163(3):973-82.

The Drosophila chk2 gene loki is essential for embryonic DNA double-strand-break checkpoints induced in S phase or G2.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1, Canada.


Cell cycle checkpoints are signal transduction pathways that control the order and timing of cell cycle transitions, ensuring that critical events are completed before the occurrence of the next cell cycle transition. The Chk2 family of kinases is known to play a central role in mediating the cellular responses to DNA damage or DNA replication blocks in various organisms. Here we show through a phylogenetic study that the Drosophila melanogaster serine/threonine kinase Loki is the homolog of the yeast Mek1p, Rad53p, Dun1p, and Cds1 proteins as well as the human Chk2. Functional analyses allowed us to conclude that, in flies, chk2 is involved in monitoring double-strand breaks (DSBs) caused by irradiation during S and G2 phases. In this process it plays an essential role in inducing a cell cycle arrest in embryonic cells. Our results also show that, in contrast to C. elegans chk2, Drosophila chk2 is not essential for normal meiosis and recombination, and it also appears to be dispensable for the MMS-induced DNA damage checkpoint and the HU-induced DNA replication checkpoint during larval development. In addition, Drosophila chk2 does not act at the same cell cycle phases as its yeast homologs, but seems rather to be involved in a pathway similar to the mammalian one, which involves signaling through the ATM/Chk2 pathway in response to genotoxic insults. As mutations in human chk2 were linked to several cancers, these similarities point to the usefulness of the Drosophila model system.

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