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Mol Cell. 2006 May 19;22(4):501-10.

ATR kinase activation mediated by MutSalpha and MutLalpha in response to cytotoxic O6-methylguanine adducts.

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Genetics and Biochemistry Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


S(N)1-type alkylating agents that produce cytotoxic O(6)-methyl-G (O(6)-meG) DNA adducts induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in a manner requiring the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) proteins MutSalpha and MutLalpha. Here, we show that checkpoint signaling in response to DNA methylation occurs during S phase and requires DNA replication that gives rise to O(6)-meG/T mispairs. DNA binding studies reveal that MutSalpha specifically recognizes O(6)-meG/T mispairs, but not O(6)-meG/C. In an in vitro assay, ATR-ATRIP, but not RPA, is preferentially recruited to O(6)-meG/T mismatches in a MutSalpha- and MutLalpha-dependent manner. Furthermore, ATR kinase is activated to phosphorylate Chk1 in the presence of O(6)-meG/T mispairs and MMR proteins. These results suggest that MMR proteins can act as direct sensors of methylation damage and help recruit ATR-ATRIP to sites of cytotoxic O(6)-meG adducts to initiate ATR checkpoint signaling.

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