ATM- and ATR-mediated response to DNA damage induced by a novel camptothecin, ST1968

Valentina Zuco, Valentina Benedetti, Franco Zunino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA damage response and checkpoint activation are expected to influence the sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents. This study was designed to investigate the DNA damage response to the novel camptothecin, ST1968, in two tumor cell lines with a different biological background (A2780 and KB), which underwent distinct cell cycle perturbations and cell death modalities. Following treatment with the camptothecin or ionizing radiation, both inducing double-strand DNA breaks, the ovarian carcinoma A2780 cells exhibited activation of the ATM-Chk2 pathway and early induction of apoptosis. In contrast, the squamous carcinoma KB cells exhibited activation of ATR-Chk1 pathway, a persistent G2/M-phase arrest, cellular senescence, mitotic catastrophe and delayed apoptosis, suggesting a defective ATM pathway. The cellular response to UV-induced DNA damage, which activates ATR-Chk1 pathway, was similar in the two cell lines exhibiting early apoptosis induction. Inhibition of ATM in A2780 cells, resulting in reduced phosphorylation of Chk2, enhanced ST1968-induced apoptosis, but had no effect in KB cells. The susceptibility to camptothecin-induced apoptosis of A2780 cells was likely p53-dependent but not related to the activation of the ATM pathway. In contrast, the inhibition of Chk1 enhanced apoptosis response in KB cell but not in A2780. Thus, depending on the biological context, the camptothecin activated ATM-Chk2 or ATR-Chk1 pathways, both having a protective role. In conclusion, our results are consistent with the interpretation that the modality of cell death response is not the critical determinant of sensitivity to camptothecins, and support the interest of inhibition of checkpoint kinases to improve the efficacy of camptothecins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Apoptosis
  • Camptothecin
  • DNA damage response
  • Mitotic catastrophe
  • Senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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