Kaufmann WK, Heffernan TP, Beaulieu LM, Doherty S, Frank AR, Zhou Y, Bryant MF, Zhou T, Luche DD, Nikolaishvili-Feinberg N, Simpson DA, Cordeiro-Stone M.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA. wkarlk@med.unc.edu

The ability of caffeine to reverse cell cycle checkpoint function and enhance genotoxicity after DNA damage was examined in telomerase-expressing human fibroblasts. Caffeine reversed the ATM-dependent S and G2 checkpoint responses to DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation (IR), as well as the ATR- and Chk1-dependent S checkpoint response to ultraviolet radiation (UVC).

Remarkably, under conditions in which IR-induced G2 delay was reversed by caffeine, IR-induced G1 arrest was not. Incubation in caffeine did not increase the percentage of cells entering the S phase 6-8h after irradiation; ATM-dependent phosphorylation of p53 and transactivation of p21(Cip1/Waf1) post-IR were resistant to caffeine. Caffeine alone induced a concentration- and time-dependent inhibition of DNA synthesis.

It inhibited the entry of human fibroblasts into S phase by 70-80% regardless of the presence or absence of wildtype ATM or p53. Caffeine also enhanced the inhibition of cell proliferation induced by UVC in XP variant fibroblasts. This effect was reversed by expression of DNA polymerase eta, indicating that translesion synthesis of UVC-induced pyrimidine dimers by DNA pol eta protects human fibroblasts against UVC genotoxic effects even when other DNA repair functions are compromised by caffeine.