ATM activation by oxidative stress
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The Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein is regarded as the major regulator of the cellular response to DNA double Strand Breaks (DSBs). In response to DSBs, ATM dimers dissociates into active monomers in a process promoted by Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) complex. ATM-deficient cells exhibit signs of chronic oxidative stress, suggesting that ATM plays an important role in the regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). I show for the first time that ATM can be activated by oxidative stress directly in the form of exposure to H₂O₂. In vitro kinase assays with purified ATM suggest that the activation by H₂O₂ is independent of DSBs and the MRN complex. In 293T cells, H₂O₂ induces ATM autophosphorylation on serine 1981. p53 and Chk2 are also phosphorylated by ATM after H₂O₂ treatment but not histone H2AX and heterochromatin protein Kap1, indicating that ATM activation by H₂O₂ in human cells is independent of DNA damage. I also show that the cysteine residue 2991 is critical for ATM activation by H₂O₂ in vitro.