Molecular biology of the cell

Estrogen inhibits ATR signaling to cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair.

PMID 19477925


DNA damage activates the ataxia telangiectasia-mutated and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase signal cascade. How this system is restrained is not understood. We find that in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer cells, UV or ionizing radiation and hydroxyurea rapidly activate ATR-dependent phosphorylation of endogenous p53 and Chk1. 17-beta-estradiol (E(2)) substantially blocks ATR activity via plasma membrane-localized ERalpha. E(2)/ER reduces the enhanced association of ATR andTopBP1 proteins that follows DNA damage and strongly correlates to ATR activity. E(2) inhibits ATR activation through rapid PI3K/AKT signaling: AKT phosphorylates TopBP1 at Serine 1159, thereby preventing the enhanced association of ATR with TopBP1 after DNA damage. E(2) also inhibits Claspin:Chk1 protein association via AKT phosphorylation of Chk1, preventing Chk1 signaling to the G2/M checkpoint. ATR-phosphorylation of p53 induces p21 transcription, prevented by E(2)/ER. E(2) delays the assembly and prolongs the resolution of gammaH2AX and Rad51 nuclear foci and delays DNA repair. E(2)/ER also increases the chromosomal damage seen from cell exposure to IR. Therefore, the restraint of ATR cascade activation may be a novel estrogen action relevant to breast cancer.