Molecule of the Month: ATM and ATR Kinases
Dividing cells use ATM and ATR kinases to respond to DNA damage.
Signaling for Help
Called to Action
Heroes of the DNA Damage Response
Exploring the Structure
Given their central roles in DNA repair, it is not surprising that ATM and ATR are intimately involved in development of cancer. Cancer cells often have mutated ATM and ATR that fail to stop cell division in cells with damaged genomes. Researchers are taking advantage of this last symptom to design drugs to block ATM. They are now looking for inhibitors to block ATM for use in cancer therapy. Although this may sound paradoxical, these drugs may be injected into tumors to make them more susceptible to radiation therapies. PDB ID 7ni5 includes one of these experimental drugs bound to the kinase domain of ATM. The drug (green) binds in the same place as ATP (yellow, from PDB ID 7ni6) would bind, near three amino acids that catalyze the phosphorylation reaction (white). In the presence of the inhibitor, the enzyme does not bind ATP and cannot perform its kinase activity.
To explore these structures in more detail, click on the image for an interactive JSmol view.
Topics for Further Discussion
- ATM and ATR have been given different names in different organisms. For example, take a look at the yeast protein Tel1 (PDB ID 6s8f) and Mec1-Ddc2 (PDB ID 6z3a).
- You can use the sequence browser to explore the domain structure of these large proteins, which is available in a tab at the top of each Structure Summary Page. For example, here’s the page for ATM.
August 2023, Kamiel Beckley, Sarah McGuinness, Asya Polat, Kayla Puebla, David S. Goodsell, Shuchismita Duttahttp://doi.org/10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2023_8