Checkpoint Rad proteins function early in the DNA damage checkpoint signaling cascade to arrest cell cycle progression in response to DNA damage. This checkpoint ensures the transmission of an intact genetic complement to daughter cells. To learn about the damage sensor function of the human checkpoint Rad proteins, we purified a heteropentameric complex composed of hRad17-RFCp36-RFCp37-RFCp38-RFCp40 (hRad17-RFC) and a heterotrimeric complex composed of hRad9-hHus1-hRad1 (checkpoint 9-1-1 complex). hRad17-RFC binds to DNA, with a preference for primed DNA and possesses weak ATPase activity that is stimulated by primed DNA and single-stranded DNA. hRad17-RFC forms a complex with the 9-1-1 heterotrimer reminiscent of the replication factor C/proliferating cell nuclear antigen clamp loader/sliding clamp complex of the replication machinery. These findings constitute biochemical support for models regarding the roles of checkpoint Rads as damage sensors in the DNA damage checkpoint response of human cells.
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