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Cell Death Differ. 2011 Jan;18(1):5-15. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2010.106. Epub 2010 Aug 27.

A positive role for c-Abl in Atm and Atr activation in DNA damage response.

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Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, Singapore.


DNA damage triggers Atm- and/or Atr-dependent signaling pathways to control cell cycle progression, apoptosis, and DNA repair. However, how Atm and Atr are activated is not fully understood. One of the downstream targets of Atm is non-receptor tyrosine kinase c-Abl, which is phosphorylated and activated by Atm. The current view is that c-Abl relays pro-apoptotic signals from Atm to p73 and p53. Here we show that c-Abl deficiency resulted in a broad spectrum of defects in cell response to genotoxic stress, including activation of Chk1 and Chk2, activation of p53, nuclear foci formation, apoptosis, and DNA repair, suggesting that c-Abl might also act upstream of the DNA damage-activated signaling cascades in addition to its role in p73 and p53 regulation. Indeed, we found that c-Abl is required for proper activation of both Atm and Atr. c-Abl is bound to the chromatin and shows enhanced interaction with Atm and Atr in response to DNA damage. c-Abl can phosphorylate Atr on Y291 and Y310 and this phosphorylation appears to have a positive role in Atr activation under genotoxic stress. These findings suggest that Atm-mediated c-Abl activation in cell response to double-stranded DNA breaks might facilitate the activation of both Atm and Atr to regulate their downstream cellular events.

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