Depletion of CHK1, but not CHK2, induces chromosomal instability and breaks at common fragile sites

Oncogene. 2006 Jul 27;25(32):4381-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209466. Epub 2006 May 29.


Common fragile sites are specific regions of the genome that form gaps and breaks on metaphase chromosomes when DNA synthesis is partially inhibited. Fragile sites and their associated genes show frequent deletions and other rearrangements in cancer cells, and may be indicators of DNA replication stress early in tumorigenesis. We have previously shown that the DNA damage response proteins ATR, BRCA1 and FANCD2 play critical roles in maintaining the stability of fragile site regions. To further elucidate the pathways regulating fragile site stability, we have investigated the effects of depletion of the cell cycle checkpoint kinases, CHK1 and CHK2 on common fragile site stability in human cells. We demonstrate that both CHK1 and CHK2 are activated following treatment of cells with low doses of aphidicolin that induce fragile site breakage. Furthermore, we show that depletion of CHK1, but not CHK2, using short-interfering RNA (siRNA) leads to highly destabilized chromosomes and specific common fragile site breakage. In many cells, CHK1 depletion resulted in extensive chromosome fragmentation, which was distinct from endonucleolytic cleavage commonly associated with apoptosis. These findings demonstrate a critical role for the CHK1 kinase in regulating chromosome stability, and in particular, common fragile site stability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • Chromosome Breakage*
  • Chromosome Fragile Sites*
  • HCT116 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Protein Kinases / deficiency*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / deficiency
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*


  • Protein Kinases
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • CHEK1 protein, human
  • CHEK2 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases