DNA replication forks are frequently forced into stalling by persistent DNA aberrations generated from endogenous or exogenous insults. Stalled replication forks are catastrophic for genome integrity and cell survival if not immediately stabilized. The ataxia–telangiectasia and RAD3-related kinase (ATR)–CLASPIN-checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) signaling cascade is a pivotal mechanism that initiates cell-cycle checkpoints and stabilizes stalled replication forks, assuring the faithful duplication of genomic information before entry into mitosis. The timely recovery of checkpoints after stressors are resolved is also crucial for normal cell proliferation. The precise activation and inactivation of ATR–CHK1 signaling are usually efficiently regulated by turnover and the cellular re-localization of the adaptor protein CLASPIN. The ubiquitination–proteasome-mediated degradation of CLASPIN, driven by APC/CCDH1 and SCFβTrCP, results in a cell-cycle-dependent fluctuation pattern of CLASPIN levels, with peak levels seen in S/G2 phase when it functions in the DNA replisome or as an adaptor protein in ATR–CHK1 signaling under replication stress. Deubiquitination mediated by a series of ubiquitin-specific protease family proteins releases CLASPIN from proteasome-dependent destruction and activates the ATR–CHK1 checkpoint to overcome replication stress. Moreover, the non-proteolytic ubiquitination of CLASPIN also affects CHK1 activation by regulating CLASPIN localization. In this review, we discuss the functions of CLASPIN ubiquitination with specific linkage types in the regulation of the ATR–CHK1 signaling pathway. Research in this area is progressing at pace and provides promising chemotherapeutic targets.

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