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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jan 20;281(3):1692-7. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

DNA replication stress-induced phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element-binding protein mediated by ATM.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The DNA damage-response regulators ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated) and ATR (ATM-Rad3-related) are structurally and functionally related protein kinases that exhibit nearly identical substrate specificities in vitro. Current paradigms hold that the relative contributions of ATM and ATR to nuclear substrate phosphorylation are dictated by the type of initiating DNA lesion; ATM-dependent substrate phosphorylation is principally activated by DNA double strand breaks, whereas ATR-dependent substrate phosphorylation is induced by UV light and other forms of DNA replication stress. In this report, we employed the cyclic AMP-response element-binding (CREB) protein to provide evidence for substrate discrimination by ATM and ATR in cellulo. ATM and ATR phosphorylate CREB in vitro, and CREB is phosphorylated on Ser-121 in intact cells in response to ionizing radiation (IR), UV light, and hydroxyurea. The UV light- and hydroxyurea-induced phosphorylation of CREB was delayed in comparison to the canonical ATR substrate CHK1, suggesting potentially different mechanisms of phosphorylation. UV light-induced CREB phosphorylation temporally correlated with ATM autophosphorylation on Ser-1981, and an ATM-specific small interfering RNA suppressed CREB phosphorylation in response to this stimulus. UV light-induced CREB phosphorylation was absent in ATM-deficient cells, confirming that ATM is required for CREB phosphorylation in UV irradiation-damaged cells. Interestingly, RNA interference-mediated suppression of ATR partially inhibited CREB phosphorylation in response to UV light, which correlated with reduced phosphorylation of ATM on Ser-1981. These findings suggest that ATM is the major genotoxin-induced CREB kinase in mammalian cells and that ATR lies upstream of ATM in a UV light-induced signaling pathway.

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