Three phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-related protein kinases implement cellular responses to DNA damage. DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and ataxia-telangiectasia mutated respond primarily to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Ataxia-telangiectasia and RAD3-related (ATR) signals the accumulation of replication protein A (RPA)-covered single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), which is caused by replication obstacles. Stalled replication intermediates can further degenerate and yield replication-associated DSBs. In this paper, we show that the juxtaposition of a double-stranded DNA end and a short ssDNA gap triggered robust activation of endogenous ATR and Chk1 in human cell-free extracts. This DNA damage signal depended on DNA-PKcs and ATR, which congregated onto gapped linear duplex DNA. DNA-PKcs primed ATR/Chk1 activation through DNA structure-specific phosphorylation of RPA32 and TopBP1. The synergistic activation of DNA-PKcs and ATR suggests that the two kinases combine to mount a prompt and specific response to replication-born DSBs.