The levels of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor p21 are low in S phase and insufficient to inhibit CDKs. We show here that endogenous p21, instead of being residual, it is functional and necessary to preserve the genomic stability of unstressed cells. p21depletion slows down nascent DNA elongation, triggers permanent replication defects and promotes the instability of hard-to-replicate genomic regions, namely common fragile sites (CFS). The p21‘s PCNA interacting region (PIR), and not its CDK binding domain, is needed to prevent the replication defects and the genomic instability caused by p21 depletion. The alternative polymerase kappa is accountable for such defects as they were not observed after simultaneous depletion of both p21 and polymerase kappa. Hence, in CDK-independent manner, endogenous p21 prevents a type of genomic instability which is not triggered by endogenous DNA lesions but by a dysregulation in the DNA polymerase choice during genomic DNA synthesis.
Mansilla, S. F., Bertolin, A. P., Bergoglio, V., Pillaire, M. J., González Besteiro, M. A., Luzzani, C., … Gottifredi, V. (2016). Cyclin Kinase-independent role of p21CDKN1A in the promotion of nascent DNA elongation in unstressed cells. ELife, 5(OCTOBER2016). https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.18020