Polo-like kinase 1 enhances survival and mutagenesis after genotoxic stress in normal cells through cell cycle checkpoint bypass

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Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a key regulator of mitosis. Aberrant Plk1 activity is found in tumors, but little is known regarding its role in the DNA damage response of normal cells and its potential contribution to the early stages of carcinogenesis. Inappropriate survival signaling after DNA damage may facilitate clonal expansion of genetically compromised cells, and it is known that protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) inhibitors activate key survival pathways. In this study, we employed hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)], a well-documented genotoxicant, to investigate the mechanism by which survival pathway activation could lead to loss of checkpoint control via a mechanism involving Plk1. We recently reported that PTP inhibition enhances clonogenic survival and mutagenesis after Cr(VI) exposure by overriding Cr-induced growth arrest. Here, we report that checkpoint bypass, facilitated by PTP inhibition, was associated with decreased Cdk1 Tyr15 phosphorylation, as well as increased Plk1 activity and nuclear localization. Plk1 was necessary for increased survival after PTP inhibition and Cr(VI) exposure in normal human fibroblasts via enhanced mitotic progression. In addition, pharmacological inhibition of Plk1 abolished the PTP inhibitor-induced bypass of the G2/M checkpoint. Notably, Plk1 overexpression increased survival and mutagenesis after Cr(VI) exposure in wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Taken together, our data indicate that Plk1 activation and nuclear localization are necessary for PTP-regulated mitotic progression after DNA damage. Our studies highlight a role for Plk1 in the loss of checkpoint control, increased survival and mutagenesis after genotoxic exposure in normal cells, which in turn may lead to genomic instability and carcinogenesis. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org.

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