IG Cannell, KA Merrick, S Morandell, C-Q Zhu, CJ Braun, RA Grant, ER Cameron, M-S Tsao, MT Hemann, MB Yaffe
In normal cells, p53 is activated by DNA damage checkpoint kinases to simultaneously control the G1/S and G2/M cell cycle checkpoints through transcriptional induction of p21(cip1) and Gadd45α. In p53-mutant tumors, cell cycle checkpoints are rewired, leading to dependency on the p38/MK2 pathway to survive DNA-damaging chemotherapy. Here we show that the RNA binding protein hnRNPA0 is the "successor" to p53 for checkpoint control. Like p53, hnRNPA0 is activated by a checkpoint kinase (MK2) and simultaneously controls both cell cycle checkpoints through distinct target mRNAs, but unlike p53, this is through the post-transcriptional stabilization of p27(Kip1) and Gadd45α mRNAs. This pathway drives cisplatin resistance in lung cancer, demonstrating the importance of post-transcriptional RNA control to chemotherapy response.