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Cell Cycle. 2008 Feb 15;7(4):493-9.

Characterization of the activation domain of the Rad53 checkpoint kinase.

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  • 1FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation, Milano, Italy.


Rad53 protein, the yeast orthologue of the human checkpoint kinase Chk2, presents two highly conserved phosphorylatable threonine residues (T354 and T358) in the activation domain, whose phosphorylation is critical to allow the activation of the kinase. In this study we found that Rad53 protein variants in which alanine and/or aspartate replace the threonine residues 354 and/or 358 do not retain kinase activity and do not undergo auto-phosphorylation, leading to defect in the checkpoint response and iper-sensitivity to DNA damage and DNA replication stress agents. Interestingly, we found that the rad53-T358D mutation severely affects the kinase activity and causes accumulation of the S129-phosphorylated isoform of histone H2A, even during an unperturbed cell cycle, thus indicating the accumulation of spontaneous DNA breaks. We further found that the protein level of Sml1, which is the physiological inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase, remains high during DNA replication in rad53-T358D cells, suggesting that an inadequate pool of dNTPs in checkpoint defective cells causes the accumulation of spontaneous DNA breaks. In conclusion, our results indicate that phosphorylation of both T354 and T358 residues strongly influences the catalytic activity of Rad53 also in unperturbed cell cycles, and support the notion that Rad53 is essential to preserve genome integrity, by controlling the level of Sml1 and the functionality of ribonucleotide reductase.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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