Accumulating evidence supports the gain-of-function of mutant forms of p53 (mutp53s). However, whether mutp53 directly perturbs the DNA replication checkpoint remains unclear. Previously, we have demonstrated that TopBP1 forms a complex with mutp53s and mediates their gain-of-function through NF-Y and p63/p73. Akt phosphorylates TopBP1 and induces its oligomerization, which inhibits its ATR-activating function. Here we show that various contact and conformational mutp53s bypass Akt to induce TopBP1 oligomerization and attenuate ATR checkpoint response during replication stress. The effect on ATR response caused by mutp53 can be exploited in a synthetic lethality strategy, as depletion of another ATR activator, DNA2, in mutp53-R273H-expressing cancer cells renders cells hypersensitive to cisplatin. Expression of mutp53-R273H also makes cancer cells more sensitive to DNA2 depletion or DNA2 inhibitors. In addition to ATR-activating function during replication stress, TopBP1 interacts with Treslin in a Cdk-dependent manner to initiate DNA replication during normal growth. We find that mutp53 also interferes with TopBP1 replication function. Several contact, but not conformational, mutp53s enhance the interaction between TopBP1 and Treslin and promote DNA replication despite the presence of a Cdk2 inhibitor. Together, these data uncover two distinct mechanisms by which mutp53 enhances DNA replication: (i) Both contact and conformational mutp53s can bind TopBP1 and attenuate the checkpoint response to replication stress, and (ii) during normal growth, contact (but not conformational) mutp53s can override the Cdk2 requirement to promote replication by facilitating the TopBP1/Treslin interaction.
Keywords: ATR; Chk1; TopBP1; Treslin; mutant p53.