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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Sep 5;47(15):7973-7988. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz476.

A kinetochore-based ATM/ATR-independent DNA damage checkpoint maintains genomic integrity in trypanosomes.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, TX 77030, USA.


DNA damage-induced cell cycle checkpoints serve as surveillance mechanisms to maintain genomic stability, and are regulated by ATM/ATR-mediated signaling pathways that are conserved from yeast to humans. Trypanosoma brucei, an early divergent microbial eukaryote, lacks key components of the conventional DNA damage-induced G2/M cell cycle checkpoint and the spindle assembly checkpoint, and nothing is known about how T. brucei controls its cell cycle checkpoints. Here we discover a kinetochore-based, DNA damage-induced metaphase checkpoint in T. brucei. MMS-induced DNA damage triggers a metaphase arrest by modulating the abundance of the outer kinetochore protein KKIP5 in an Aurora B kinase- and kinetochore-dependent, but ATM/ATR-independent manner. Overexpression of KKIP5 arrests cells at metaphase through stabilizing the mitotic cyclin CYC6 and the cohesin subunit SCC1, mimicking DNA damage-induced metaphase arrest, whereas depletion of KKIP5 alleviates the DNA damage-induced metaphase arrest and causes chromosome mis-segregation and aneuploidy. These findings suggest that trypanosomes employ a novel DNA damage-induced metaphase checkpoint to maintain genomic integrity.


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