ATR-Chk1 activation mitigates replication stress caused by mismatch repair-dependent processing of DNA damage.
ABSTRACT: The mismatch repair pathway (MMR) is essential for removing DNA polymerase errors, thereby maintaining genomic stability. Loss of MMR function increases mutation frequency and is associated with tumorigenesis. However, how MMR is executed at active DNA replication forks is unclear. This has important implications for understanding how MMR repairs O6-methylguanine/thymidine (MeG/T) mismatches created upon exposure to DNA alkylating agents. If MeG/T lesion recognition by MMR initiates mismatch excision, the reinsertion of a mismatched thymidine during resynthesis could initiate futile repair cycles. One consequence of futile repair cycles might be a disruption of overall DNA replication in the affected cell. Herein, we show that in MMR-proficient HeLa cancer cells, treatment with a DNA alkylating agent slows S phase progression, yet cells still progress into the next cell cycle. In the first S phase following treatment, they activate ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR)-Checkpoint Kinase 1 (Chk1) signaling, which limits DNA damage, while inhibition of ATR kinase activity accelerates DNA damage accumulation and sensitivity to the DNA alkylating agent. We also observed that exposure of human embryonic stem cells to alkylation damage severely compromised DNA replication in a MMR-dependent manner. These cells fail to activate the ATR-Chk1 signaling axis, which may limit their ability to handle replication stress. Accordingly, they accumulate double-strand breaks and undergo immediate apoptosis. Our findings implicate the MMR-directed response to alkylation damage as a replication stress inducer, suggesting that repeated MMR processing of mismatches may occur that can disrupt S phase progression.
Project description: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.
Project description:The presence of DNA damage initiates signaling through the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated kinase (ATM) and the ATM- and the Rad3-related kinase (ATR), which phosphorylate, thus activating, the checkpoint kinases (Chk) 1 and 2, which leads to cell cycle arrest. The bifunctional DNA alkylator 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) is cytotoxic primarily by inducing DNA monoadducts and ultimately, interstrand cross-links, which block DNA replication. In this study, we investigated the activation of the ATR-Chk1 pathway in response to BCNU treatment and the dependence of this response on the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) capacity. Medulloblastoma cells were exposed to low and moderate doses of BCNU, and the effects on this DNA damage signaling pathway were examined. In response to BCNU, Chk1 was found to be phosphorylated at serine 345 and exhibited increased kinase activity. Caffeine and wortmannin, which are broad-spectrum inhibitors of ATM and ATR, reduced this phosphorylation. Cell cycle analysis further revealed an accumulation of cells in the S phase in response to BCNU, an effect that was attenuated by caffeine. Small interfering RNA knockdown of ATR also reduced Chk1 phosphorylation after exposure to BCNU. However, knockdown of ATM had no effect on the observed Chk1 phosphorylation, suggesting that ATR was primarily responsible for Chk1 activation. Analysis of Chk1 activation in cells deficient in MMR proteins MutLalpha or MutSalpha indicated that the DNA damage response induced by BCNU was independent of the MMR apparatus. This MMR-independent activation seems to be the result of DNA interstrand cross-link formation.
Project description:S(N)1-type alkylating agents represent an important class of chemotherapeutics, but the molecular mechanisms underlying their cytotoxicity are unknown. Thus, although these substances modify predominantly purine nitrogen atoms, their toxicity appears to result from the processing of O(6)-methylguanine ((6Me)G)-containing mispairs by the mismatch repair (MMR) system, because cells with defective MMR are highly resistant to killing by these agents. In an attempt to understand the role of the MMR system in the molecular transactions underlying the toxicity of alkylating agents, we studied the response of human MMR-proficient and MMR-deficient cells to low concentrations of the prototypic methylating agent N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG). We now show that MNNG treatment induced a cell cycle arrest that was absolutely dependent on functional MMR. Unusually, the cells arrested only in the second G(2) phase after treatment. Downstream targets of both ATM (Ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and ATR (ATM and Rad3-related) kinases were modified, but only the ablation of ATR, or the inhibition of CHK1, attenuated the arrest. The checkpoint activation was accompanied by the formation of nuclear foci containing the signaling and repair proteins ATR, the S(*)/T(*)Q substrate, gamma-H2AX, and replication protein A (RPA). The persistence of these foci implied that they may represent sites of irreparable damage.
Project description:Cytotoxicity of methylating agents is caused mostly by methylation of the O6 position of guanine in DNA to form O6-methylguanine (O6-meG). O6-meG can direct misincorporation of thymine during replication, generating O6-meG:T mismatches. Recognition of these mispairs by the mismatch repair (MMR) system leads to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. MMR also modulates sensitivity to other antitumor drugs. The base excision repair (BER) enzyme MED1 (also known as MBD4) interacts with the MMR protein MLH1. MED1 was found to exhibit thymine glycosylase activity on O6-meG:T mismatches. To examine the biological significance of this activity, we generated mice with targeted inactivation of the Med1 gene and prepared mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) with different Med1 genotype. Unlike wild-type and heterozygous cultures, Med1-/- MEF failed to undergo G2-M cell cycle arrest and apoptosis upon treatment with the methylating agent N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG). Similar results were obtained with platinum compounds' 5-fluorouracil and irinotecan. As is the case with MMR-defective cells, resistance of Med1-/- MEF to MNNG was due to a tolerance mechanism because DNA damage accumulated but did not elicit checkpoint activation. Interestingly, steady state amounts of several MMR proteins are reduced in Med1-/- MEF, in comparison with Med1+/+ and Med1+/- MEF. We conclude that MED1 has an additional role in DNA damage response to antitumor agents and is associated with integrity of the MMR system. MED1 defects (much like MMR defects) may impair cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induced by DNA damage.
Project description:S(N)1 DNA methylating agents are genotoxic agents that methylate numerous nucleophilic centers within DNA including the O(6) position of guanine (O(6)meG). Methylation of this extracyclic oxygen forces mispairing with thymine during DNA replication. The mismatch repair (MMR) system recognizes these O(6)meG:T mispairs and is required to activate DNA damage response (DDR). Exonuclease I (EXO1) is a key component of MMR by resecting the damaged strand; however, whether EXO1 is required to activate MMR-dependent DDR remains unknown. Here we show that knockdown of the mouse ortholog (mExo1) in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) results in decreased G2/M checkpoint response, limited effects on cell proliferation, and increased cell viability following exposure to the S(N)1 methylating agent N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG), establishing a phenotype paralleling MMR deficiency. MNNG treatment induced formation of ?-H2AX foci with which EXO1 co-localized in MEFs, but mExo1-depleted MEFs displayed a significant diminishment of ?-H2AX foci formation. mExo1 depletion also reduced MSH2 association with DNA duplexes containing G:T mismatches in vitro, decreased MSH2 association with alkylated chromatin in vivo, and abrogated MNNG-induced MSH2/CHK1 interaction. To determine if nuclease activity is required to activate DDR we stably overexpressed a nuclease defective form of human EXO1 (hEXO1) in mExo1-depleted MEFs. These experiments indicated that expression of wildtype and catalytically null hEXO1 was able to restore normal response to MNNG. This study indicates that EXO1 is required to activate MMR-dependent DDR in response to S(N)1 methylating agents; however, this function of EXO1 is independent of its nucleolytic activity.
Project description:The O(6)-methylguanine (O(6)MeG) DNA lesion is well known for its mutagenic, carcinogenic, and cytotoxic properties, and understanding how a cell processes such damage is of critical importance for improving current cancer therapy. Here we use human cells differing only in their O(6)MeG DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) or mismatch repair (MMR) status to explore the O(6)MeG/MMR-dependent molecular and cellular responses to treatment with the methylating agent N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG). We find that O(6)MeG triggers MMR-dependent cell cycle perturbations in both the first and second cell cycle post treatment. At lower levels of damage, we show that a transient arrest in the second S-phase precedes survival and progression into subsequent cell cycles. However, at higher levels of damage, arrest in the second S-phase coincides with a cessation of DNA replication followed by initiation of apoptotic cell death. Further, we show that entry into apoptotic cell death is specifically from S-phase of the second cell cycle. Finally, we demonstrate the key role of an O(6)MeG/MMR-dependent multi-pathway, multi-time-scale signaling network activation, led by early ATM, H2AX, CHK1, and p53 phosphorylation and followed by greatly amplified late phosphorylation of the early pathway nodes along with activation of the CHK2 kinase and the stress-activated JNK kinase.
Project description:The loss of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) is responsible for hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer and a subset of sporadic tumors. Acquired resistance or tolerance to some anti-cancer drugs occurs when MMR function is impaired. 5-Fluorouracil (FU), an anti-cancer drug used in the treatment of advanced colorectal and other cancers, and its metabolites are incorporated into RNA and DNA and inhibit thymidylate synthase resulting in depletion of dTTP and incorporation in DNA of uracil. Although the MMR deficiency has been implicated in tolerance to FU, the mechanism of cell killing remains unclear. Here, we examine the cellular response to fluorodeoxyuridine (FdU) and the role of the MMR system. After brief exposure of cells to low doses of FdU, MMR mediates DNA damage signaling during S-phase and triggers arrest in G2/M in the first cell cycle in a manner requiring MutSalpha, MutLalpha, and DNA replication. Cell cycle arrest is mediated by ATR kinase and results in phosphorylation of Chk1 and SMC1. MutSalpha binds FdU:G mispairs in vitro consistent with its being a DNA damage sensor. Prolonged treatment with FdU results in an irreversible arrest in G2 that is independent of MMR status and leads to the accumulation of DNA lesions that are targeted by the base excision repair (BER) pathway. Thus, MMR can act as a direct sensor of FdU-mediated DNA lesions eliciting cell cycle arrest via the ATR/Chk1 pathway. However, at higher levels of damage, other damage surveillance pathways such as BER also play important roles.
Project description:The ataxia-telangiectasia mutated and rad3-related (ATR) kinase orchestrates cellular responses to DNA damage and replication stress. Complete loss of ATR function leads to chromosomal instability and cell death. However, heterozygous ATR mutations are found in human cancers with microsatellite instability, suggesting that ATR haploinsufficiency contributes to tumorigenesis. To test this possibility, we generated human cell line and mouse model systems in which a single ATR allele was inactivated on a mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient background. Monoallelic ATR gene targeting in MLH1-deficient HCT 116 colon carcinoma cells resulted in hypersensitivity to genotoxic stress accompanied by dramatic increases in fragile site instability, and chromosomal amplifications and rearrangements. The ATR(+/-) HCT 116 cells also displayed compromised activation of Chk1, an important downstream target for ATR. In complementary studies, we demonstrated that mice bearing the same Atr(+/-)/Mlh1(-/-) genotype were highly prone to both embryonic lethality and early tumor development. These results demonstrate that MMR proteins and ATR functionally interact during the cellular response to genotoxic stress, and that ATR serves as a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor in MMR-deficient cells.
Project description:The conserved protein kinase Chk1 is a player in the defense against DNA damage and replication blocks. The current model is that after DNA damage or replication blocks, ATR(Mec1) phosphorylates Chk1 on the non-catalytic C-terminal domain. However, the mechanism of activation of Chk1 and the function of the Chk1 C terminus in vivo remains largely unknown. In this study we used an in vivo assay to examine the role of the C terminus of Chk1 in the response to DNA damage and replication blocks. The conserved ATR(Mec1) phosphorylation sites were essential for the checkpoint response to DNA damage and replication blocks in vivo; that is, that mutation of the sites caused lethality when DNA replication was stalled by hydroxyurea. Despite this, loss of the ATR(Mec1) phosphorylation sites did not change the kinase activity of Chk1 in vitro. Furthermore, a single amino acid substitution at an invariant leucine in a conserved domain of the non-catalytic C terminus restored viability to cells expressing the ATR(Mec1) phosphorylation site-mutated protein and relieved the requirement of an upstream mediator for Chk1 activation. Our findings show that a single amino acid substitution in the C terminus, which could lead to an allosteric change in Chk1, allows it to bypass the requirement of the conserved ATR(Mec1) phosphorylation sites for checkpoint function.
Project description:Genomic instability in colorectal cancer is categorized into two distinct classes: chromosome instability (CIN) and microsatellite instability (MSI). MSI is the result of mutations in the mismatch repair (MMR) machinery, whereas CIN is often thought to be associated with a disruption in the APC gene. Clinical data has recently shown the presence of heterozygous mutations in ATR and Chk1 in human cancers that exhibit MSI, suggesting that those mutations may contribute to tumorigenesis. To determine whether reduced activity in the DNA damage checkpoint pathway would cooperate with MMR deficiency to induce CIN, we used siRNA strategies to partially decrease the expression of ATR or Chk1 in MMR-deficient colorectal cancer cells. The resultant cancer cells display a typical CIN phenotype, as characterized by an increase in the number of chromosomal abnormalities. Importantly, restoration of MMR proficiency completely inhibited induction of the CIN phenotype, indicating that the combination of partial checkpoint blockage and MMR deficiency is necessary to trigger CIN. Moreover, disruption of ATR and Chk1 in MMR-deficient cells enhanced the sensitivity to treatment with the commonly used colorectal chemotherapeutic compound, 5-fluorouracil. These results provide a basis for the development of a combination therapy for those cancer patients.