Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Cell cycle inertia underlies a bifurcation in cell fates after DNA damage

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Science Advances  13 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 3, eabe3882
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe3882


The G1-S checkpoint is thought to prevent cells with damaged DNA from entering S phase and replicating their DNA and efficiently arrests cells at the G1-S transition. Here, using time-lapse imaging and single-cell tracking, we instead find that DNA damage leads to highly variable and divergent fate outcomes. Contrary to the textbook model that cells arrest at the G1-S transition, cells triggering the DNA damage checkpoint in G1 phase route back to quiescence, and this cellular rerouting can be initiated at any point in G1 phase. Furthermore, we find that most of the cells receiving damage in G1 phase actually fail to arrest and proceed through the G1-S transition due to persistent cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity in the interval between DNA damage and induction of the CDK inhibitor p21. These observations necessitate a revised model of DNA damage response in G1 phase and indicate that cells have a G1 checkpoint.

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