MUC1-C Oncoprotein Interacts Directly with ATM and Promotes the DNA Damage Response to Ionizing Radiation

Genes Cancer. 2010 Mar;1(3):239-250. doi: 10.1177/1947601910368059.


The ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase is activated in the cellular response to ionizing radiation (IR) and is of importance to the repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). The MUC1 oncoprotein is aberrantly overexpressed in human breast carcinomas. The present work demonstrates that the MUC1 C-terminal subunit (MUC1-C) constitutively interacts with ATM in human breast cancer cells. We show that the MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain binds directly to ATM HEAT repeats. Our results also demonstrate that the MUC1-C cytoplasmic domain binds to the ATM substrate H2AX. The functional significance of these interactions is supported by the finding that MUC1-C promotes removal of IR-induced nuclear γH2AX foci. MUC1-C also protects against IR-induced chromosomal aberrations. In concert with these results, MUC1-C blocks IR-induced death by promoting repair of potentially lethal DNA damage. These findings indicate that the overexpression of MUC1 can protect against IR-induced DNA DSBs and may represent a physiologic response that has been exploited by malignant cells.