Chk1 suppresses bypass of mitosis and tetraploidization in p53-deficient cancer cells

Deborah Wilsker, Jon H. Chung, Fred Bunz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Many cancer cells are unable to maintain a numerically stable chromosome complement. It is well established that aberrant cell division can generate progeny with increased ploidy, but the genetic factors required for maintenance of diploidy are not well understood. Using an isogenic model system derived by gene targeting, we examined the role of Chk1 in p53-proficient and -deficient cancer cells. Targeted inactivation of a single CHK1 allele in stably diploid cells caused an elevated frequency of mitotic bypass if p53 was naturally mutated or experimentally disrupted by homologous recombination. CHK1-haploinsufficient, p53-deficient cells frequently underwent sequential rounds of DNA synthesis without an intervening mitosis. These aberrant cell cycles resulted in whole-genome endoreduplication and tetraploidization. The unscheduled bypass of mitosis could be suppressed by targeted reversion of a p53 mutation or by exogenous expression of Cdk1. In contrast, the number of tetraploid cells was not increased in isogenic cell populations that harbor hypomorphic ATR mutations, suggesting that suppression of unscheduled mitotic bypass is a distinct function of Chk1. These results are consistent with a recently described role for Chk1 in promoting the expression of genes that promote cell cycle transitions and demonstrate how Chk1 might prevent tetraploidization during the cancer cell cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1564-1572
Number of pages9
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2012


  • Chk1
  • Mitosis
  • Tetraploid
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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