ERK Activation Mediates Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis after DNA Damage Independently of p53 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • In response to DNA damage, ataxia-telangiectasia mutant and ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad-3 activate p53, resulting in either cell cycle arrest or apoptosis. We report here that DNA damage stimuli, including etoposide (ETOP), adriamycin (ADR), ionizing irradiation (IR), and ultraviolet irradiation (UV) activate ERK1/2 (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase in primary (MEF and IMR90), immortalized (NIH3T3) and transformed (MCF-7) cells. ERK activation in response to ETOP was abolished in ATM-/- fibroblasts (GM05823) and was independent of p53. The MEK1 inhibitor PD98059 prevented ERK activation but not p53 stabilization. Maximal ERK activation in response to DNA damage was not attenuated in MEF(p53-/-). However, ERK activation contributes to either cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in response to low or high intensity DNA insults, respectively. Inhibition of ERK activation by PD98059 or U0126 attenuated p21(CIP1) induction, resulting in partial release of the G(2)/M cell cycle arrest induced by ETOP. Furthermore, PD98059 or U0126 also strongly attenuated apoptosis induced by high dose ETOP, ADR, or UV. Conversely, enforced activation of ERK by overexpression of MEK-1/Q56P sensitized cells to DNA damage-induced apoptosis. Taken together, these results indicate that DNA damage activates parallel ERK and p53 pathways in an ATM-dependent manner. These pathways might function cooperatively in cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.


  • Tang, Damu
  • Wu, Dongcheng
  • Hirao, Atsushi
  • Lahti, Jill M
  • Liu, Lieqi
  • Mazza, Brie
  • Kidd, Vincent J
  • Mak, Tak W
  • Ingram, Alistair J

publication date

  • April 2002

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