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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®


Reviewed January 2013

What is the official name of the ATM gene?

The official name of this gene is “ATM serine/threonine kinase.”

ATM is the gene's official symbol. The ATM gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the ATM gene?

The ATM gene provides instructions for making a protein that is located primarily in the nucleus of cells, where it helps control the rate at which cells grow and divide. This protein also plays an important role in the normal development and activity of several body systems, including the nervous system and the immune system. Additionally, the ATM protein assists cells in recognizing damaged or broken DNA strands. DNA can be damaged by agents such as toxic chemicals or radiation. Breaks in DNA strands also occur naturally when chromosomes exchange genetic material during cell division. The ATM protein coordinates DNA repair by activating enzymes that fix the broken strands. Efficient repair of damaged DNA strands helps maintain the stability of the cell's genetic information.

Because of its central role in cell division and DNA repair, the ATM protein is of great interest in cancer research.

How are changes in the ATM gene related to health conditions?

ataxia-telangiectasia - caused by mutations in the ATM gene

Researchers have identified several hundred mutations in the ATM gene that cause ataxia-telangiectasia. People with this disorder have mutations in both copies of the ATM gene in each cell. Most of these mutations disrupt protein production, resulting in an abnormally small, nonfunctional version of the ATM protein. Cells without any functional ATM protein are hypersensitive to radiation and do not respond normally to DNA damage. Instead of activating DNA repair, the defective ATM protein allows mutations to accumulate in other genes, which may cause cells to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. This kind of unregulated cell growth can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. In addition, ATM mutations can allow cells to die inappropriately, particularly affecting cells in a part of the brain involved in coordinating movements (the cerebellum). This loss of brain cells causes the movement problems characteristic of ataxia-telangiectasia.

other cancers - increased risk from variations of the ATM gene

Research suggests that people who carry one mutated copy of the ATM gene in each cell may have an increased risk of developing several other types of cancer. In particular, some studies have shown that cancers of the breast, stomach, bladder, pancreas, lung, and ovaries occur more frequently in ATM mutation carriers than in people who do not carry these mutations. The results of similar studies, however, have been conflicting. Additional research is needed to clarify which other types of cancer, if any, are associated with ATM mutations.

Where is the ATM gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 11q22-q23

Molecular Location on chromosome 11: base pairs 108,222,500 to 108,369,102

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBI (

The ATM gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 11 between positions 22 and 23.

The ATM gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 11 between positions 22 and 23.

More precisely, the ATM gene is located from base pair 108,222,500 to base pair 108,369,102 on chromosome 11.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about ATM?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about ATM helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the ATM gene or gene products?

  • AT1
  • ATA
  • ataxia telangiectasia mutated
  • ataxia telangiectasia mutated (includes complementation groups A, C and D)
  • ataxia telangiectasia mutated protein
  • ATC
  • ATD
  • ATDC
  • ATE
  • AT mutated
  • AT protein
  • human phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase homolog
  • serine-protein kinase ATM
  • TEL1
  • TELO1

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding ATM?

ataxia ; cancer ; cell ; cell division ; cerebellum ; DNA ; DNA damage ; DNA repair ; gene ; immune system ; kinase ; mutation ; nervous system ; nucleus ; pancreas ; protein ; radiation ; serine ; stomach ; telangiectasia ; threonine ; threonine kinase ; toxic

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


  • Ahmed M, Rahman N. ATM and breast cancer susceptibility. Oncogene. 2006 Sep 25;25(43):5906-11. Review. (
  • Bradbury JM, Jackson SP. ATM and ATR. Curr Biol. 2003 Jun 17;13(12):R468. (
  • Geoffroy-Perez B, Janin N, Ossian K, Laugé A, Croquette MF, Griscelli C, Debré M, Bressac-de-Paillerets B, Aurias A, Stoppa-Lyonnet D, Andrieu N. Cancer risk in heterozygotes for ataxia-telangiectasia. Int J Cancer. 2001 Jul 15;93(2):288-93. (
  • Gumy-Pause F, Wacker P, Sappino AP. ATM gene and lymphoid malignancies. Leukemia. 2004 Feb;18(2):238-42. Review. (
  • Hall J. The Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated gene and breast cancer: gene expression profiles and sequence variants. Cancer Lett. 2005 Sep 28;227(2):105-14. Epub 2005 Jan 8. Review. (
  • Kim JH, Kim H, Lee KY, Choe KH, Ryu JS, Yoon HI, Sung SW, Yoo KY, Hong YC. Genetic polymorphisms of ataxia telangiectasia mutated affect lung cancer risk. Hum Mol Genet. 2006 Apr 1;15(7):1181-6. Epub 2006 Feb 23. (
  • Kitagawa R, Kastan MB. The ATM-dependent DNA damage signaling pathway. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2005;70:99-109. Review. (
  • Kurz EU, Lees-Miller SP. DNA damage-induced activation of ATM and ATM-dependent signaling pathways. DNA Repair (Amst). 2004 Aug-Sep;3(8-9):889-900. Review. (
  • Lavin MF, Birrell G, Chen P, Kozlov S, Scott S, Gueven N. ATM signaling and genomic stability in response to DNA damage. Mutat Res. 2005 Jan 6;569(1-2):123-32. Review. (
  • Lavin MF, Kozlov S. DNA damage-induced signalling in ataxia-telangiectasia and related syndromes. Radiother Oncol. 2007 Jun;83(3):231-7. Epub 2007 May 23. Review. (
  • McKinnon PJ. ATM and ataxia telangiectasia. EMBO Rep. 2004 Aug;5(8):772-6. Review. (
  • Motoyama N, Naka K. DNA damage tumor suppressor genes and genomic instability. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2004 Feb;14(1):11-6. Review. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Prokopcova J, Kleibl Z, Banwell CM, Pohlreich P. The role of ATM in breast cancer development. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Aug;104(2):121-8. Epub 2006 Oct 24. Review. (
  • Renwick A, Thompson D, Seal S, Kelly P, Chagtai T, Ahmed M, North B, Jayatilake H, Barfoot R, Spanova K, McGuffog L, Evans DG, Eccles D; Breast Cancer Susceptibility Collaboration (UK), Easton DF, Stratton MR, Rahman N. ATM mutations that cause ataxia-telangiectasia are breast cancer susceptibility alleles. Nat Genet. 2006 Aug;38(8):873-5. Epub 2006 Jul 9. (
  • Shiloh Y. ATM and related protein kinases: safeguarding genome integrity. Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Mar;3(3):155-68. Review. (
  • Thompson D, Duedal S, Kirner J, McGuffog L, Last J, Reiman A, Byrd P, Taylor M, Easton DF. Cancer risks and mortality in heterozygous ATM mutation carriers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Jun 1;97(11):813-22. (
  • Yang J, Yu Y, Hamrick HE, Duerksen-Hughes PJ. ATM, ATR and DNA-PK: initiators of the cellular genotoxic stress responses. Carcinogenesis. 2003 Oct;24(10):1571-80. Epub 2003 Aug 14. Review. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: January 2013
Published: February 8, 2016