Rad3, the Schizosaccharomyces pombe ortholog of human ATR and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mec1, activates the checkpoint kinase Chk1 in response to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Rad3(ATR/Mec1) associates with replication protein A (RPA), which binds single-stranded DNA overhangs formed by DSB resection. In humans and both yeasts, DSBs are initially detected and processed by the Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1(Xrs2) (MRN) nucleolytic protein complex in association with the Tel1(ATM) checkpoint kinase and the Ctp1(CtIP/Sae2) DNA-end processing factor; however, in budding yeast, neither Mre11 nuclease activity or Sae2 are required for Mec1 signaling at irreparable DSBs. Here, we investigate the relationship between DNA end processing and the DSB checkpoint response in fission yeast, and we report that Mre11 nuclease activity and Ctp1 are critical for efficient Rad3-to-Chk1 signaling. Moreover, deleting Ctp1 reveals a Tel1-to-Chk1 signaling pathway that bypasses Rad3. This pathway requires Mre11 nuclease activity, the Rad9-Hus1-Rad1 (9-1-1) checkpoint clamp complex, and Crb2 checkpoint mediator. Ctp1 negatively regulates this pathway by controlling MRN residency at DSBs. A Tel1-to-Chk1 checkpoint pathway acting at unresected DSBs provides a mechanism for coupling Chk1 activation to the initial detection of DSBs and suggests that ATM may activate Chk1 by both direct and indirect mechanisms in mammalian cells.
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