ATAD5, the human ortholog of yeast Elg1, plays a role in PCNA deubiquitination. Since PCNA modification is important to regulate DNA damage bypass, ATAD5 may be important for suppression of genomic instability in mammals in vivo. To test this hypothesis, we generated heterozygous (Atad5+/m) mice that were haploinsuffficient for Atad5. Atad5+/m mice displayed high levels of genomic instability in vivo, and Atad5+/m mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) exhibited molecular defects in PCNA deubiquitination in response to DNA damage, as well as DNA damage hypersensitivity and high levels of genomic instability, apoptosis, and aneuploidy. Importantly, 90% of haploinsufficient Atad5+/m mice developed tumors, including sarcomas, carcinomas, and adenocarcinomas, between 11 and 20 months of age. High levels of genomic alterations were evident in tumors that arose in the Atad5+/m mice. Consistent with a role for Atad5 in suppressing tumorigenesis, we also identified somatic mutations of ATAD5 in 4.6% of sporadic human endometrial tumors, including two nonsense mutations that resulted in loss of proper ATAD5 function. Taken together, our findings indicate that loss-of-function mutations in mammalian Atad5 are sufficient to cause genomic instability and tumorigenesis.
Genomic instability is a hallmark of tumorigenesis, suggesting that mutations in genes suppressing genomic instability contribute to this phenotype. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that haploinsufficiency for Atad5, a protein that is important in stabilizing stalled DNA replication forks by regulating PCNA ubiquitination during DNA damage bypass, predisposes >90% of mice to tumorigenesis in multiple organs. In heterozygous Atad5 mice, both somatic cells and the spontaneous tumors showed high levels of genomic instability. In a subset of sporadic human endometrial tumors, we identified heterozygous loss-of-function somatic mutations in the ATAD5 gene, consistent with the role of mouse Atad5 in suppressing tumorigenesis. Collectively, our findings suggest that ATAD5 may be a novel tumor suppressor gene.