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Mec1/ATR, The Program Manager Of Nucleic Acids Inc.

W. Feng
Published 2016 · Biology, Medicine

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Eukaryotic cells are equipped with surveillance mechanisms called checkpoints to ensure proper execution of cell cycle events. Among these are the checkpoints that detect DNA damage or replication perturbations and coordinate cellular activities to maintain genome stability. At the forefront of damage sensing is an evolutionarily conserved molecule, known respectively in budding yeast and humans as Mec1 (Mitosis entry checkpoint 1) and ATR (Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related protein). Through phosphorylation, Mec1/ATR activates downstream components of a signaling cascade to maintain nucleotide pool balance, protect replication fork integrity, regulate activation of origins of replication, coordinate DNA repair, and implement cell cycle delay. This list of functions continues to expand as studies have revealed that Mec1/ATR modularly interacts with various protein molecules in response to different cellular cues. Among these newly assigned functions is the regulation of RNA metabolism during checkpoint activation and the coordination of replication–transcription conflicts. In this review, I will highlight some of these new functions of Mec1/ATR with a focus on the yeast model organism.
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