Activation of the ATR kinase by the RPA-binding protein ETAA1
Activation of the ATR kinase following perturbations to DNA replication relies on a complex mechanism involving ATR recruitment to RPA-coated single-stranded DNA via its binding partner ATRIP and stimulation of ATR kinase activity by TopBP1. Here, we discovered an independent ATR activation pathway in vertebrates, mediated by the uncharacterized protein ETAA1 (Ewing’s tumour-associated antigen 1). Human ETAA1 accumulates at DNA damage sites via dual RPA-binding motifs and promotes replication fork progression and integrity, ATR signalling and cell survival after genotoxic insults. Mechanistically, this requires a conserved domain in ETAA1 that potently and directly stimulates ATR kinase activity independently of TopBP1. Simultaneous loss of ETAA1 and TopBP1 gives rise to synthetic lethality characterized by massive genome instability and abrogation of ATR-dependent signalling. Our findings demonstrate that parallel TopBP1- and ETAA1-mediated pathways underlie ATR activation and that their combined action is essential for coping with replication stress.