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Exposure to hypoxia-induced replication arrest initiates a DNA damage response that includes both ATR- and ATM-mediated signaling. DNA fiber analysis was used to show that these conditions lead to a replication arrest during both the initiation and elongation phases, and that this correlated with decreased levels of nucleotides. The DNA damage response induced by hypoxia is distinct from the classical pathways induced by damaging agents, primarily due to the lack of detectable DNA damage, but also due to the coincident repression of DNA repair in hypoxic conditions. The principle aims of the hypoxia-induced DNA damage response seem to be the induction of p53-dependent apoptosis or the preservation of replication fork integrity. The latter is of particular importance should reoxygenation occur. Tumor reoxygenation occurs as a result of spontaneous changes in blood flow and also therapy. Cells experiencing hypoxia and/or reoxygenation are, therefore, sensitive to loss or inhibition of components of the DNA damage response, including Chk1, ATM, ATR, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). In addition, restoration of hypoxia-induced p53-mediated signaling may well be effective in the targeting of hypoxic cells. The DNA damage response is also induced in endothelial cells at moderate levels of hypoxia, which do not induce replication arrest. In this situation, phosphorylation of H2AX has been shown to be required for proliferation and angiogenesis and is, therefore, an attractive potential therapeutic target.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





5624 - 5629


Cell Cycle Proteins, Cell Hypoxia, DNA Damage, DNA Repair Enzymes, Humans, Models, Biological, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Oxygen, Signal Transduction