The ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia, mutated) protein kinase is a major regulator of cellular responses to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), DNA lesions that can be caused by ionizing irradiation (IR), oxidative damage, or exposure to certain chemical agents. In response to DSBs, the ATM kinase is activated and subsequently phosphorylates numerous downstream substrates, including p53, Chk2, BRCA1, and KAP1, which affect processes such as cell cycle progression and DNA repair. Numerous studies have demonstrated that loss of ATM function results in enhanced sensitivity to ionizing irradiation in clinically relevant dose ranges, suggesting that ATM kinase is an attractive therapeutic target for enhancing tumor cell kill with radiotherapy. Previously identified small-molecule ATM kinase inhibitors, such as CP466722 and Ku55933, were identified using in vitro kinase assays carried out with recombinant ATM kinase isolated from mammalian cells. Since it has not been feasible to express full-length recombinant ATM in bacterial or baculovirus systems, a robust in vitro screening tool has been lacking. We have developed a cell-based assay that is robust, straightforward, and sensitive. Using this high-throughput assay, we screened more than 7000 compounds and discovered additional small molecules that inhibit the ATM kinase and further validated these hits by secondary assays.
Keywords: ATM kinase; cell-based assay; high-throughput screening; kinase inhibitor.