Chromosomal instability (CIN), as a common feature of tumors, represents a potential therapeutic target if ways can be found to specifically cause apoptosis in unstably dividing cells. We have previously shown that if signaling through the JNK pathway is reduced, apoptosis is triggered in models of chromosomal instability induced by loss of the spindle checkpoint. Here we identify components upstream and downstream of JNK that are able to mediate this effect, and test the involvement of p53 and DNA damage in causing apoptosis when JNK signaling is reduced in CIN cells. We show that cell cycle progression timing has a strong effect on the apoptosis seen when JNK signaling is reduced in genetically unstable cells: a shortened G2 phase enhances the apoptosis, while lengthening G2 rescues the JNK-deficient CIN cell death phenotype. Our findings suggest that chromosomal instability represents a significant stress to dividing cells, and that without JNK signaling, cells undergo apoptosis because they lack a timely and effective response to DNA damage.
- chromosomal instability