Chromosome ends contain nucleoprotein structures known as telomeres. Damage to chromosome ends during interphase elicits a DNA damage response (DDR) resulting in cell cycle arrest. However, little is known regarding the signaling from damaged chromosome ends (designated here as "TIPs") during mitosis. In the present study, we investigated the consequences of DNA damage induced at a single TIP in mitosis. We used laser microirradiation to damage mitotic TIPs or chromosome arms (non-TIPs) in PtK2 kidney epithelial cells. We found that damage to a single TIP, but not a non-TIP, delays anaphase onset. This TIP-specific checkpoint response is accompanied by differential recruitment of DDR proteins. Although phosphorylation of H2AX and the recruitment of several repair factors, such as Ku70-Ku80, occur in a comparable manner at both TIP and non-TIP damage sites, DDR factors such as ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), MDC1, WRN, and FANCD2 are specifically recruited to TIPs but not to non-TIPs. In addition, Nbs1, BRCA1, and ubiquitin accumulate at damaged TIPs more rapidly than at damaged non-TIPs. ATR and 53BP1 are not detected at either TIPs or non-TIPs in mitosis. The observed delay in anaphase onset is dependent on the activity of DDR kinases ATM and Chk1, and the spindle assembly checkpoint kinase Mps1. Cells damaged at a single TIP or non-TIP eventually exit mitosis with unrepaired lesions. Damaged TIPs are segregated into micronuclei at a significantly higher frequency than damaged non-TIPs. Together, these findings reveal a mitosis-specific DDR uniquely associated with chromosome ends.
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