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Loss of ATM positively regulates Rac1 activity and cellular migration through oxidative stress

Tolbert, Caitlin E., Beck, Matthew V., Kilmer, Claire E., Srougi, Melissa C.
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.508 no.4 pp. 1155-1161
acetylcysteine, animal tissues, cell growth, cell movement, cytoskeleton, enzyme activity, guanine nucleotides, guanosinetriphosphatase, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, non-specific serine/threonine protein kinase, oxidative stress, phenotype, reactive oxygen species, small interfering RNA
Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is a serine-threonine kinase that is integral in the response to DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs). Cells and tissues lacking ATM are prone to tumor development and enhanced tumor cell migration and invasion. Interestingly, ATM-deficient cells exhibit high levels of oxidative stress; however, the direct mechanism whereby ATM-associated oxidative stress may contribute to the cancer phenotype remains largely unexplored. Rac1, a member of the Rho family of GTPases, also plays an important regulatory role in cellular growth, motility, and cancer formation. Rac1 can be activated directly by reactive oxygen species (ROS), by a mechanism distinct from canonical guanine nucleotide exchange factor-driven activation. Here we show that loss of ATM kinase activity elevates intracellular ROS, leading to Rac1 activation. Rac1 activity drives cytoskeletal rearrangements resulting in increased cellular spreading and motility. Rac1 siRNA or treatment with the ROS scavenger N-Acetyl-L-cysteine restores wild-type migration. These studies demonstrate a novel mechanism whereby ATM activity and ROS generation regulates Rac1 to modulate pro-migratory cellular behavior.