Several DNA damage checkpoint factors form nuclear foci in response to ionizing radiation (IR). Although the number of the initial foci decreases concomitantly with DNA double-strand break repair, some fraction of foci persists. To date, the physiological role of the persistent foci has been poorly understood. Here we examined foci of Ser1981-phosphorylated ATM in normal human diploid cells exposed to 1 Gy of X-rays. While the initial foci size was approximately 0.6 μm, the one or two of persistent focus (foci) grew, whose diameter reached 1.6 μm or more in diameter at 24 h after IR. All of the grown persistent foci of phosphorylated ATM colocalized with the persistent foci of Ser139-phosphorylated histone H2AX, MDC1, 53BP1, and NBS1, which also grew similarly. When G0-synchronized normal human cells were released immediately after 1 Gy of X-rays and incubated for 24 h, the grown large phosphorylated ATM foci (≥1.6 μm) were rarely (av. 0.9%) observed in S phase cells, while smaller foci (<1.6 μm) were frequently (av. 45.9%) found. We observed significant phosphorylation of p53 at Ser15 in cells with a single grown phosphorylated ATM focus. Furthermore, persistent inhibition of foci growth of phosphorylated ATM by an ATM inhibitor, KU55933, completely abrogated p53 phosphorylation. Defective growth of the persistent IR-induced foci was observed in primary fibroblasts derived from ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) and Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS) patients, which were abnormal in IR-induced G1 checkpoint. These results indicate that the growth of the persistent foci of the DNA damage checkpoint factors plays a pivotal role in G1 arrest, which amplifies G1 checkpoint signals sufficiently for phosphorylating p53 in cells with a limited number of remaining foci.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology