ATM protein and p53-serine 15 phosphorylation in ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) patients and at heterozygotes

Br J Cancer. 2000 Jun;82(12):1938-45. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2000.1168.


ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia mutated) gene plays a central role in the DNA-damage response pathway. We characterized the ATM protein expression in immortalized cells from AT and AT-variant patients, and heterozygotes and correlated it with two ATM-dependent radiation responses, G1 checkpoint arrest and p53-Ser 15 phosphorylation. On Western blots, the full-length ATM protein was detected in eight of 18 AT cases, albeit at 1-32% of the normal levels, whereas a truncated ATM protein was detected in a single case, despite the prevalence among cases of truncation mutations. Of two ataxia without telangiectasia [A-(T)] cases, one expressed 20% and the other approximately 70% of the normal ATM levels. Noteworthy, among ten asymptomatic heterozygous carriers for AT, normal amounts of ATM protein were found in one and reduced by 40-50% in the remaining cases. The radiation-induced phosphorylation of p53 protein at serine 15, largely mediated by ATM kinase, was defective in AT, A(-T) and in 2/4 heterozygous carriers, while the G1 cell cycle checkpoint was disrupted in all AT and A(-T) cases, and in 3/10 AT heterozygotes. Altogether, our study shows that AT and A(-T) cases bearing truncation mutations of the ATM gene can produce modest amounts of full-length (and only rarely truncated) ATM protein. However, this limited expression of ATM protein provides no benefit regarding the ATM-dependent responses related to G1 arrest and p53-ser15 phosphorylation. Our study additionally shows that the majority of AT heterozygotes express almost halved levels of ATM protein, sufficient in most cases to normally regulate the ATM-dependent DNA damage-response pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia Telangiectasia / metabolism*
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Serine / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Serine
  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases

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