Infoscience

Journal article

Cdk2 strengthens the intra-S checkpoint and counteracts cell cycle exit induced by DNA damage

Although cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) controls the G1/S transition and promotes DNA replication, it is dispensable for cell cycle progression due to redundancy with Cdk1. Yet Cdk2 also has non-redundant functions that can be revealed in certain genetic backgrounds and it was reported to promote the G2/M DNA damage response checkpoint in TP53 (p53)-deficient cancer cells. However, in p53-proficient cells subjected to DNA damage, Cdk2 is inactivated by the CDK inhibitor p21. We therefore investigated whether Cdk2 differentially affects checkpoint responses in p53-proficient and deficient cell lines. We show that, independently of p53 status, Cdk2 stimulates the ATR/Chk1 pathway and is required for an efficient DNA replication checkpoint response. In contrast, Cdk2 is not required for a sustained DNA damage response and G2 arrest. Rather, eliminating Cdk2 delays S/G2 progression after DNA damage and accelerates appearance of early markers of cell cycle exit. Notably, Cdk2 knockdown leads to down-regulation of Cdk6, which we show is a non-redundant pRb kinase whose elimination compromises cell cycle progression. Our data reinforce the notion that Cdk2 is a key p21 target in the DNA damage response whose inactivation promotes exit from the cell cycle in G2.

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