Phosphorylation of HIC1 (Hypermethylated in Cancer 1) Ser694 by ATM is essential for DNA repair

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 May 14;553:51-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.03.060. Epub 2021 Mar 20.


The tumor suppressor gene HIC1 (Hypermethylated in Cancer 1) encodes a transcriptional repressor involved in the DNA-damage response. A SUMOylation increase on HIC1 Lysine314 favors the direct transcriptional repression of SIRT1 and thus the P53-dependent apoptotic response to irreparable DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). HIC1 is also essential for DSBs repair but in a SUMOylation-independent manner. Here, we show that repairable DSBs induced by a 1 h Etoposide treatment results in three specific posttranslational modifications (PTMs) of HIC1. Two of these PTMs, phosphorylation of Serine 694 and Acetylation of Lysine 623 are located in the conserved HIC1 C-terminal region located downstream of the Zinc Finger DNA-binding domain. By contrast, phosphorylation of Serine 285 found in the poorly conserved central region is unique to the human protein. We showed that Ser694 phosphorylation is mediated mainly by the PIKK kinase ATM and is essential for the DNA repair activity of HIC1 as demonstrated by the lack of efficiency of the S694A point mutant in Comet assays. Thus, our results provide the first evidence for a functional role of the conserved HIC1 C-terminal region as a novel ATM substrate that plays an essential role in the cellular HIC1-mediated cellular response to repairable DSBs.

Keywords: ATM; DNA-Damage response; HIC1; P53.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Comet Assay
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • Humans
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / chemistry*
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphoserine / metabolism*


  • HIC1 protein, human
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Phosphoserine
  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins