Deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) is a rate limiting enzyme critical for phosphorylation of endogenous deoxynucleosides for DNA synthesis and exogenous nucleoside analogues for anticancer and antiviral drug actions. dCK is activated in response to DNA damage; however, how it functions in the DNA damage response is largely unknown. Here, we report that dCK is required for the G2/M checkpoint in response to DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation (IR). We demonstrate that the ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) kinase phosphorylates dCK on Serine 74 to activate it in response to DNA damage. We further demonstrate that Serine 74 phosphorylation is required for initiation of the G2/M checkpoint. Using mass spectrometry, we identified a protein complex associated with dCK in response to DNA damage. We demonstrate that dCK interacts with cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) after IR and that the interaction inhibits Cdk1 activity both in vitro and in vivo. Together, our results highlight the novel function of dCK and provide molecular insights into the G2/M checkpoint regulation in response to DNA damage.
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