ERK kinases modulate the activation of PI3 kinase related kinases (PIKKs) in DNA damage response.
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DNA damage response (DDR) is the critical surveillance mechanism in maintaining genome integrity. The mechanism activates checkpoints to prevent cell cycle progression in the presence of DNA lesions, and mediates lesion repair. DDR is coordinated by three apical PI3 kinase related kinases (PIKKs), including ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM), ATM- and Rad3-related (ATR), and DNA-PKcs (the catalytic subunit of the DNA dependent protein kinase). These kinases are activated in response to specific DNA damage or lesions, resulting in checkpoint activation and DNA lesion repair. While it is clear that the pathways of ATM, ATR, and DNA-PK are the core components of DDR, there is accumulating evidence revealing the involvement of other cellular pathways in regulating DDR; this is in line with the concept that in addition to being a nuclear event DDR is also a cellular process. One of these pathways is the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathway. ERK is a converging point of multiple signal transduction pathways involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Adding to this list of pathways is the recent development of ERK in DDR. The ERK kinases (ERK1 and ERK2) contribute to the proper execution of DDR in terms of checkpoint activation and the repair of DNA lesions. This review summarizes the contributions of ERK to DDR with emphasis on the relationship of ERK kinases with the activation of ATM, ATR, and DNA-PKcs.
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