Docking-dependent regulation of checkpoint kinase chk1 by the growth regulator p21WAF1
Checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) is a key player in the DNA damage response signalling pathway and the mode of Chk1 activation whereby it undergoes ATRdependent phosphorylation at Ser317 and Ser345 is well characterised. It has been suggested that phosphorylation at the ATR sites relieves the auto-inhibitory action conferred by the C-terminal negative regulatory domain on the catalytic core of Chk1. In this study, we show that Chk1 activity can also be stimulated by docking to an N-terminal region of the growth regulator p21waf1 and this docking domain is necessary for efficient Chk1-dependent phosphorylation of p21 at Ser146. In addition, Chk1 and p21 are shown to form a transient interaction by immunoprecipitation. Interestingly, although the isolated p21 docking domain can activate Chk1 in trans, a mutant where the C-terminal 70 amino acids are truncated is refractory to stimulation whereas mutation of the ATR phosphoacceptor sites does not affect docking dependent activation. Furthermore, when the amino acid sequence of the p21 docking domain was aligned with the sequence of Chk1, homology to the F region on the kinase domain was identified. Mutation of two conserved tryptophan residues within the homology region appears to release the C-terminus from intramolecular interactions rendering it susceptible to cleavage and refractory to allosteric stimulation. Furthermore, small peptides based on this region of Chk1, like the p21 docking domain, are able to activate Chk1 in trans and disrupt interaction between the N-terminal and Cterminal domains. Interestingly, peptide microarray showed that Chk1 stimulated by activating peptide is able to phosphorylate novel peptide substrates which are not observed with unstimulated Chk1. The data suggest that the last C-terminal 70 amino acids of Chk1 play an important role in auto-inhibition through interaction with the F region of the core catalytic domain. Binding to p21 is able to activate Chk1 by inhibiting the auto-inhibitory interaction independent of phosphorylation at the Ser317 and Ser345 sites. Furthermore, activating peptide is able to modulate Chk1 specificity towards other substrates.