The connection between E2F and ATM in p53-dependent apoptosis

Sung Ki Hong, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Programmed cell death is an anticancer mechanism utilized by p53 that when disrupted can accelerate tumor development in response to oncogenic stress. Defects in the RB tumor suppressor cause aberrant cell proliferation as well as apoptosis. The combinatorial loss of the p53 and RB pathways is observed in a large percentage of human tumors. The E2F family of transcription factors primarily mediates the phenotype of Rb loss, since RB is a negative regulator of E2F. Contrary to early expectations, it has now been shown that the ARF (alternative reading frame) tumor suppressor is not required for p53-dependent apoptosis in response to deregulation of the RB/E2F pathway. In this study, we demonstrate that ATM, known as a DNA double-strand break (DSB) sensor, is responsible for ARF-independent apoptosis and p53 activation induced by deregulated E2F1. Moreover, NBS1, a component of the MRN DNA repair complex, is also required for E2F1-induced apoptosis and apparently works in the same pathway as ATM. We further found that endogenous E2F1 and E2F3 both play a role in apoptosis and ATM activation in response to inhibition of RB by the adenoviral E1A oncoprotein. We demonstrate that, unlike deregulated E2F3 and Myc, ATM activation by deregulated E2F1 does not involve the induction of DNA damage, autophosphorylation of ATM on Ser 1981, a marker of ATM activation by DSB, but does depend on the presence of NBS1, suggesting that E2F1 activates ATM in a different manner from E2F3 and Myc. Results from domain mapping studies show that the DNA binding, dimerization, and marked box domains of E2F1 are required to activate ATM and stimulate apoptosis but the transactivation domain is not. This implies that E2F1's DNA binding and interaction with other proteins through the marked box domain are necessary to induce ATM activation leading to apoptosis but transcriptional activation by E2F1 is dispensable. Together these data suggest a model in which E2F1 activates ATM to phosphorylate p53 through a novel mechanism that is independent of DNA damage and transcriptional activation by E2F1.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Hong, Sung Ki, "The connection between E2F and ATM in p53-dependent apoptosis" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3287363.