Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity prevents signaling pathways for cell cycle arrest after DNA methylating agent exposure.


Mouse fibroblasts, deficient in DNA polymerase beta, are hypersensitive to monofunctional DNA methylating agents such as methyl methanesulfonate (MMS). Both wild-type and, in particular, repair-deficient DNA polymerase beta null cells are highly sensitized to the cytotoxic effects of MMS by 4-amino-1,8-naphthalimide (4-AN), an inhibitor of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity. Experiments with synchronized cells suggest that exposure during S-phase of the cell cycle is required for the 4-AN effect. 4-AN elicits a similar extreme sensitization to the thymidine analog, 5-hydroxymethyl-2'-deoxyuridine, implicating the requirement for an intermediate of DNA repair. In PARP-1-expressing fibroblasts treated with a combination of MMS and 4-AN, a complete inhibition of DNA synthesis is apparent after 4 h, and by 24 h, all cells are arrested in S-phase of the cell cycle. Continuous incubation with 4-AN is required to maintain the cell cycle arrest. Caffeine, an inhibitor of the upstream checkpoint kinases ATM (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated) and ATR (ATM and Rad3-related), has no effect on the early inhibition of DNA synthesis, but cells are no longer able to maintain the block after 8 h. Instead, the addition of caffeine leads to arrest of cells in G(2)/M rather than S-phase after 24 h. Analysis of signaling pathways in cell extracts reveals an activation of Chk1 after treatment with MMS and 4-AN, which can be suppressed by caffeine. Our results suggest that inhibition of PARP activity results in sensitization to MMS through maintenance of an ATR and Chk1-dependent S-phase checkpoint.




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