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Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Dec 12. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1233. [Epub ahead of print]

Regulation of ATR activity via the RNA polymerase II associated factors CDC73 and PNUTS-PP1.

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Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.
Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal.
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Ataxia telangiectasia mutated and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase is a key factor activated by DNA damage and replication stress. An alternative pathway for ATR activation has been proposed to occur via stalled RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). However, how RNAPII might signal to activate ATR remains unknown. Here, we show that ATR signaling is increased after depletion of the RNAPII phosphatase PNUTS-PP1, which dephosphorylates RNAPII in its carboxy-terminal domain (CTD). High ATR signaling was observed in the absence and presence of ionizing radiation, replication stress and even in G1, but did not correlate with DNA damage or RPA chromatin loading. R-loops were enhanced, but overexpression of EGFP-RNaseH1 only slightly reduced ATR signaling after PNUTS depletion. However, CDC73, which interacted with RNAPII in a phospho-CTD dependent manner, was required for the high ATR signaling, R-loop formation and for activation of the endogenous G2 checkpoint after depletion of PNUTS. In addition, ATR, RNAPII and CDC73 co-immunoprecipitated. Our results suggest a novel pathway involving RNAPII, CDC73 and PNUTS-PP1 in ATR signaling and give new insight into the diverse functions of ATR.


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