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Cell Cycle. 2005 Oct;4(10):1428-34. Epub 2005 Oct 26.

Inhibition of the ATR/Chk1 pathway induces a p38-dependent S-phase delay in mouse embryonic stem cells.

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Laboratory of Immune Cell Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ATM- and Rad3-related (ATR) kinases, family members of the PI-3 kinase related proteins, play a key role in checkpoint activation and maintenance of genomic stability following DNA damage. We have used wild type (WT) and p38alpha-deficient mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells to investigate the role of ATR and ATM kinases during embryonic cell cycle. We have found that inhibition of ATR and ATM kinases with caffeine or Chk1 with UCN-01, results in activation of a p38-dependent intra-S-phase checkpoint and activation of apoptosis in ES cells. However, wortmannin at a concentration, that inhibits ATM kinase but not ATR kinase, did not affect cell cycle progression. Furthermore, the presence of caffeine results in activation of p38 kinase, accumulation of p21/Waf1 in a complex with Cdk2 and decrease of Cdk2 kinase activity. In contrast, caffeine-treated p38alpha-/- ES cells show less apoptosis, and fail to trigger an effective S-phase checkpoint and accumulation of p21/Waf1. We conclude that ATR kinase activity is essential for normal cell cycle progression of exponentially proliferating mouse ES cells even in the absence of exogenous DNA damage, and ATR deregulation triggers p38alpha-dependent cell-cycle checkpoint and apoptotic responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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