Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Biomedical Sciences

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Yue Zou

Committee Members

Phillip R. Musich, Antonio E. Rusinol, Douglas P. Thewke, Krishna Singh, Gary Wright


Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) is well known for its regulatory role in DNA damage responses (DDR) as a checkpoint kinase that phosphorylates hundreds of protein substrates. However, its role in cellular non-DNA damage stress responses (NDDR) is unknown. Necrosis is one form of cell death and traditionally has been regarded as a passive and uncontrolled cell death. Recently, evidence has emerged to support the concept that necrosis also may occur in a programmed manner and that PARP1 can be a mediator. Active poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) hydrolyzes nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) to produce poly (ADP-ribose) (PAR) polymers on target proteins or itself. As a result, hyper-activity of PARP1 may lead to necrosis by excessively depleting ATP pool which results in mitochondrial energetic collapse. On the other hand, it is known that Ca2+ overload induces necrosis, but much still remains unknown about how Ca2+ overload-induced necrosis is regulated in cells. In this study, we show that ATR, besides its hallmark regulatory role in DDR, also plays a role in NDDR by suppressing ionomycin-induced necrosis. Ionomycin as a Ca2+ ionophore can dramatically raise the intracellular level of Ca2+, leading to necrosis. We found that this Ca2+ overload-induced necrosis occurs without inducing DDR in cells. Instead, the hyper-poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation (PARylation) activity of activated PARP1 could be a reason leading to necrosis, as NAD+ supplied to media can rescue ionomycin-induced necrosis. In vitro PARylation assay also demonstrates that PARP1 hyper-activation is Ca2+ dependent. In cells, ATR-PARP1 interaction happened after ionomycin treatment. Furthermore, ionomycin treatment induces more full-length PAR polymers formed in ATR-deficient cells than in ATR-proficient cells. The interaction of kinase-dead ATR and PARP1 dramatically decreased as compared to wild-type ATR. Therefore, ATR plays a novel role in NDDR wherein it is able to suppress Ca2+ overload-induced PARP1-mediated necrosis. Ca2+ overload-induced cell death is a major cause of many human medical conditions and diseases, such as brain injury, stroke and ischemia et al. Our ongoing studies will help to define the molecular mechanisms of the anti-necrosis activities of ATR, which may support ATR as a new clinical target for therapeutic treatment of those diseases.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.