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1.  Expression of a Human Cytochrome P450 in Yeast Permits Analysis of Pathways for Response to and Repair of Aflatoxin-Induced DNA Damage†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(14):5823-5833.
Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is a human hepatotoxin and hepatocarcinogen produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. In humans, AFB1 is primarily bioactivated by cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) and 3A4 to a genotoxic epoxide that forms N7-guanine DNA adducts. A series of yeast haploid mutants defective in DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoints were transformed with human CYP1A2 to investigate how these DNA adducts are repaired. Cell survival and mutagenesis following aflatoxin B1 treatment was assayed in strains defective in nucleotide excision repair (NER) (rad14), postreplication repair (PRR) (rad6, rad18, mms2, and rad5), homologous recombinational repair (HRR) (rad51 and rad54), base excision repair (BER) (apn1 apn2), nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) (yku70), mismatch repair (MMR) (pms1), translesion synthesis (TLS) (rev3), and checkpoints (mec1-1, mec1-1 rad53, rad9, and rad17). Together our data suggest the involvement of homologous recombination and nucleotide excision repair, postreplication repair, and checkpoints in the repair and/or tolerance of AFB1-induced DNA damage in the yeast model. Rev3 appears to mediate AFB1-induced mutagenesis when error-free pathways are compromised. The results further suggest unique roles for Rad5 and abasic endonuclease-dependent DNA intermediates in regulating AFB1-induced mutagenicity.
PMCID: PMC1168797  PMID: 15988000
2.  Databases and Bioinformatics Tools for the Study of DNA Repair 
DNA is continuously exposed to many different damaging agents such as environmental chemicals, UV light, ionizing radiation, and reactive cellular metabolites. DNA lesions can result in different phenotypical consequences ranging from a number of diseases, including cancer, to cellular malfunction, cell death, or aging. To counteract the deleterious effects of DNA damage, cells have developed various repair systems, including biochemical pathways responsible for the removal of single-strand lesions such as base excision repair (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) or specialized polymerases temporarily taking over lesion-arrested DNA polymerases during the S phase in translesion synthesis (TLS). There are also other mechanisms of DNA repair such as homologous recombination repair (HRR), nonhomologous end-joining repair (NHEJ), or DNA damage response system (DDR). This paper reviews bioinformatics resources specialized in disseminating information about DNA repair pathways, proteins involved in repair mechanisms, damaging agents, and DNA lesions.
PMCID: PMC3200286  PMID: 22091405
3.  Involvement of Nucleotide Excision and Mismatch Repair Mechanisms in Double Strand Break Repair 
Current Genomics  2009;10(4):250-258.
Living organisms are constantly threatened by environmental DNA-damaging agents, including UV and ionizing radiation (IR). Repair of various forms of DNA damage caused by IR is normally thought to follow lesion-specific repair pathways with distinct enzymatic machinery. DNA double strand break is one of the most serious kinds of damage induced by IR, which is repaired through double strand break (DSB) repair mechanisms, including homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). However, recent studies have presented increasing evidence that various DNA repair pathways are not separated, but well interlinked. It has been suggested that non-DSB repair mechanisms, such as Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER), Mismatch Repair (MMR) and cell cycle regulation, are highly involved in DSB repairs. These findings revealed previously unrecognized roles of various non-DSB repair genes and indicated that a successful DSB repair requires both DSB repair mechanisms and non-DSB repair systems. One of our recent studies found that suppressed expression of non-DSB repair genes, such as XPA, RPA and MLH1, influenced the yield of IR induced micronuclei formation and/or chromosome aberrations, suggesting that these genes are highly involved in DSB repair and DSB-related cell cycle arrest, which reveals new roles for these gene products in the DNA repair network. In this review, we summarize current progress on the function of non-DSB repair-related proteins, especially those that participate in NER and MMR pathways, and their influence on DSB repair. In addition, we present our developing view that the DSB repair mechanisms are more complex and are regulated by not only the well known HR/NHEJ pathways, but also a systematically coordinated cellular network.
PMCID: PMC2709936  PMID: 19949546
Ionizing radiation (IR); DNA damage; DSB repair; NER; MMR and cell cycle.
4.  Release of Ku and MRN from DNA Ends by Mre11 Nuclease Activity and Ctp1 Is Required for Homologous Recombination Repair of Double-Strand Breaks 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(9):e1002271.
The multifunctional Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) protein complex recruits ATM/Tel1 checkpoint kinase and CtIP/Ctp1 homologous recombination (HR) repair factor to double-strand breaks (DSBs). HR repair commences with the 5′-to-3′ resection of DNA ends, generating 3′ single-strand DNA (ssDNA) overhangs that bind Replication Protein A (RPA) complex, followed by Rad51 recombinase. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 (MRX) complex is critical for DSB resection, although the enigmatic ssDNA endonuclease activity of Mre11 and the DNA-end processing factor Sae2 (CtIP/Ctp1 ortholog) are largely unnecessary unless the resection activities of Exo1 and Sgs1-Dna2 are also eliminated. Mre11 nuclease activity and Ctp1/CtIP are essential for DSB repair in Schizosaccharomyces pombe and mammals. To investigate DNA end resection in Schizo. pombe, we adapted an assay that directly measures ssDNA formation at a defined DSB. We found that Mre11 and Ctp1 are essential for the efficient initiation of resection, consistent with their equally crucial roles in DSB repair. Exo1 is largely responsible for extended resection up to 3.1 kb from a DSB, with an activity dependent on Rqh1 (Sgs1) DNA helicase having a minor role. Despite its critical function in DSB repair, Mre11 nuclease activity is not required for resection in fission yeast. However, Mre11 nuclease and Ctp1 are required to disassociate the MRN complex and the Ku70-Ku80 nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) complex from DSBs, which is required for efficient RPA localization. Eliminating Ku makes Mre11 nuclease activity dispensable for MRN disassociation and RPA localization, while improving repair of a one-ended DSB formed by replication fork collapse. From these data we propose that release of the MRN complex and Ku from DNA ends by Mre11 nuclease activity and Ctp1 is a critical step required to expose ssDNA for RPA localization and ensuing HR repair.
Author Summary
A double-strand break (DSB) is a devastating form of DNA damage. Fortunately, cells are equipped with two DSB repair pathways: homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ). The Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) protein complex recognizes DSBs and initiates HR repair. The Mre11 subunit harbors a nuclease domain that is essential for repair in fission yeast and mammals, although the function is unknown. Here we show that Mre11 nuclease activity is required to release the Ku complex from DNA ends in fission yeast. While the initiation of repair, i.e. the generation of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) overhangs in Mre11-nuclease dead mutants, is unaffected, we find that an essential downstream step involving the localization of Replication Protein A (RPA) to ssDNA is substantially decreased due to the inability to release Ku and MRN from the DNA end. In contrast, a DNA processing factor called Ctp1, which binds to Nbs1, is essential for the initiation of repair as well as the release of Ku and MRN from DNA ends. Importantly, we find that efficient localization of RPA, which is essential for efficient DSB repair by HR, requires the release of Ku and MRN from the DNA by the combined action of Mre11 nuclease and Ctp1.
PMCID: PMC3169521  PMID: 21931565
5.  RAS Transformation Requires CUX1-Dependent Repair of Oxidative DNA Damage 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(3):e1001807.
The base excision repair (BER) that repairs oxidative damage is upregulated as an adaptive response in maintaining tumorigenesis of RAS-transformed cancer cells.
The Cut homeobox 1 (CUX1) gene is a target of loss-of-heterozygosity in many cancers, yet elevated CUX1 expression is frequently observed and is associated with shorter disease-free survival. The dual role of CUX1 in cancer is illustrated by the fact that most cell lines with CUX1 LOH display amplification of the remaining allele, suggesting that decreased CUX1 expression facilitates tumor development while increased CUX1 expression is needed in tumorigenic cells. Indeed, CUX1 was found in a genome-wide RNAi screen to identify synthetic lethal interactions with oncogenic RAS. Here we show that CUX1 functions in base excision repair as an ancillary factor for the 8-oxoG-DNA glycosylase, OGG1. Single cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) reveals that Cux1+/− MEFs are haploinsufficient for the repair of oxidative DNA damage, whereas elevated CUX1 levels accelerate DNA repair. In vitro base excision repair assays with purified components demonstrate that CUX1 directly stimulates OGG1's enzymatic activity. Elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in cells with sustained RAS pathway activation can cause cellular senescence. We show that elevated expression of either CUX1 or OGG1 prevents RAS-induced senescence in primary cells, and that CUX1 knockdown is synthetic lethal with oncogenic RAS in human cancer cells. Elevated CUX1 expression in a transgenic mouse model enables the emergence of mammary tumors with spontaneous activating Kras mutations. We confirmed cooperation between KrasG12V and CUX1 in a lung tumor model. Cancer cells can overcome the antiproliferative effects of excessive DNA damage by inactivating a DNA damage response pathway such as ATM or p53 signaling. Our findings reveal an alternate mechanism to allow sustained proliferation in RAS-transformed cells through increased DNA base excision repair capability. The heightened dependency of RAS-transformed cells on base excision repair may provide a therapeutic window that could be exploited with drugs that specifically target this pathway.
Author Summary
In the context of tumor development and progression, mutations are believed to accumulate owing to compromised DNA repair. Such mutations promote oncogenic growth. Yet cancer cells also need to sustain a certain level of DNA repair in order to replicate their DNA and successfully proliferate. Here we show that cancer cells that harbor an activated RAS oncogene exhibit heightened DNA repair capability, specifically in the base excision repair (BER) pathway that repairs oxidative DNA damage. RAS oncogenes alone do not transform primary cells but rather cause their senescence—that is, they stop dividing. As such, cellular senescence in this context is proposed to function as a tumor-suppressive mechanism. We show that CUX1, a protein that accelerates oxidative DNA damage repair, prevents cells from senescing and enables proliferation in the presence of a RAS oncogene. Consistent with this, RAS-induced senescence is also prevented by ectopic expression of OGG1, the DNA glycosylase that removes 8-oxoguanine, the most abundant oxidized base. Strikingly, CUX1 expression in transgenic mice enables the emergence of tumors with spontaneous activating Kras mutations. Conversely, knockdown of CUX1 is synthetic lethal for RAS-transformed cells, thereby revealing a potential Achilles' heel of these cancer cells. Overall, the work provides insight into understanding the role of DNA repair in cancer progression, showing that while DNA damage-induced mutations promote tumorigenesis, sustained RAS-dependent tumorigenesis requires suppression of DNA damage. The heightened dependency of RAS-transformed cells on base excision repair may provide a therapeutic window that could be exploited with drugs that specifically target this pathway.
PMCID: PMC3949673  PMID: 24618719
6.  The BRCT Domain of PARP-1 Is Required for Immunoglobulin Gene Conversion 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(7):e1000428.
During affinity maturation, genomic integrity is maintained through specific targeting of DNA mutations. The DNA damage sensor PARP-1 helps determine whether a DNA lesion results in faithful or mutagenic repair.
Genetic variation at immunoglobulin (Ig) gene variable regions in B-cells is created through a multi-step process involving deamination of cytosine bases by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) and their subsequent mutagenic repair. To protect the genome from dangerous, potentially oncogenic effects of off-target mutations, both AID activity and mutagenic repair are targeted specifically to the Ig genes. However, the mechanisms of targeting are unknown and recent data have highlighted the role of regulating mutagenic repair to limit the accumulation of somatic mutations resulting from the more widely distributed AID-induced lesions to the Ig genes. Here we investigated the role of the DNA damage sensor poly-(ADPribose)-polymerase-1 (PARP-1) in the repair of AID-induced DNA lesions. We show through sequencing of the diversifying Ig genes in PARP-1−/− DT40 B-cells that PARP-1 deficiency results in a marked reduction in gene conversion events and enhanced high-fidelity repair of AID-induced lesions at both Ig heavy and light chains. To further characterize the role of PARP-1 in the mutagenic repair of AID-induced lesions, we performed functional analyses comparing the role of engineered PARP-1 variants in high-fidelity repair of DNA damage induced by methyl methane sulfonate (MMS) and the mutagenic repair of lesions at the Ig genes induced by AID. This revealed a requirement for the previously uncharacterized BRCT domain of PARP-1 to reconstitute both gene conversion and a normal rate of somatic mutation at Ig genes, while being dispensable for the high-fidelity base excision repair. From these data we conclude that the BRCT domain of PARP-1 is required to initiate a significant proportion of the mutagenic repair specific to diversifying antibody genes. This role is distinct from the known roles of PARP-1 in high-fidelity DNA repair, suggesting that the PARP-1 BRCT domain has a specialized role in assembling mutagenic DNA repair complexes involved in antibody diversification.
Author Summary
To produce a limitless diversity of antibodies within the constraints of a finite genome, activated B cells introduce random mutations into antibody genes through a process of targeted DNA damage and subsequent mutagenic repair. At the same time, the rest of the genome must be protected from mutagenesis to prevent off-target mutations which can lead to the development of lymphoma or leukemia. How antibody genes are specifically targeted is still largely unknown. A potential player in this process is the DNA-damage-sensing enzyme PARP-1, which recruits DNA repair enzymes to sites of damage. Using a chicken B cell lymphoma cell line because it has only a single PARP isoform and constitutively mutates its antibody genes, we compared the types of mutations accumulated in PARP-1−/− cells to wild type. We found that in cells lacking PARP-1, the major pathway of mutagenic repair was disrupted and fewer mutations than normal were introduced into their antibody genes. To identify what might be important for mutagenesis, we tested different factors for their ability to rescue this mutagenic deficiency and found a role for the BRCT (BRCA1 C-terminal) domain of PARP-1, a consensus protein domain known to be involved in directing protein-protein interactions. Our evidence suggests that PARP-1 may be interacting with another hypothetical protein via its BRCT domain that is required for the mutagenic rather than faithful repair of DNA lesions in the antibody genes.
PMCID: PMC2907289  PMID: 20652015
7.  Histone Modifications and DNA Double-Strand Break Repair after Exposure to Ionizing Radiations 
Radiation research  2013;179(4):383-392.
Ionizing radiation exposure induces highly lethal DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in all phases of the cell cycle. After DSBs are detected by the cellular machinery, these breaks are repaired by either of two mechanisms: (1) nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), which re-ligates the broken ends of the DNA and (2) homologous recombination (HR), that makes use of an undamaged identical DNA sequence as a template to maintain the fidelity of DNA repair. DNA DSB repair must occur within the context of the natural cellular DNA structure. Among the major factors influencing DNA organization are specific histone and nonhistone proteins that form chromatin. The overall chromatin structure regulates DNA damage responses since chromatin status can impede DNA damage site access by repair proteins. During the process of DNA DSB repair, several chromatin alterations are required to sense damage and facilitate accessibility of the repair machinery. The DNA DSB response is also facilitated by hierarchical signaling networks that orchestrate chromatin structural changes that may coordinate cell-cycle checkpoints involving multiple enzymatic activities to repair broken DNA ends. During DNA damage sensing and repair, histones undergo posttranslational modifications (PTMs) including phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation and ubiquitylation. Such histone modifications represent a histone code that directs the recruitment of proteins involved in DNA damage sensing and repair processes. In this review, we summarize histone modifications that occur during DNA DSB repair processes.
PMCID: PMC4133051  PMID: 23373901
8.  A multistep genomic screen identifies new genes required for repair of DNA double-strand breaks in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:251.
Efficient mechanisms for rejoining of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are vital because misrepair of such lesions leads to mutation, aneuploidy and loss of cell viability. DSB repair is mediated by proteins acting in two major pathways, called homologous recombination and nonhomologous end-joining. Repair efficiency is also modulated by other processes such as sister chromatid cohesion, nucleosome remodeling and DNA damage checkpoints. The total number of genes influencing DSB repair efficiency is unknown.
To identify new yeast genes affecting DSB repair, genes linked to gamma radiation resistance in previous genome-wide surveys were tested for their impact on repair of site-specific DSBs generated by in vivo expression of EcoRI endonuclease. Eight members of the RAD52 group of DNA repair genes (RAD50, RAD51, RAD52, RAD54, RAD55, RAD57, MRE11 and XRS2) and 73 additional genes were found to be required for efficient repair of EcoRI-induced DSBs in screens utilizing both MATa and MATα deletion strain libraries. Most mutants were also sensitive to the clastogenic chemicals MMS and bleomycin. Several of the non-RAD52 group genes have previously been linked to DNA repair and over half of the genes affect nuclear processes. Many proteins encoded by the protective genes have previously been shown to associate physically with each other and with known DNA repair proteins in high-throughput proteomics studies. A majority of the proteins (64%) share sequence similarity with human proteins, suggesting that they serve similar functions.
We have used a genetic screening approach to detect new genes required for efficient repair of DSBs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The findings have spotlighted new genes that are critical for maintenance of genome integrity and are therefore of greatest concern for their potential impact when the corresponding gene orthologs and homologs are inactivated or polymorphic in human cells.
PMCID: PMC3637596  PMID: 23586741
EcoRI; Homologous recombination; End-joining; Double-strand break; Bleomycin; MMS; Radiation; RAD52; Gene ontology (GO); Overlapping genes
9.  Bacillus subtilis SbcC protein plays an important role in DNA inter-strand cross-link repair 
Several distinct pathways for the repair of damaged DNA exist in all cells. DNA modifications are repaired by base excision or nucleotide excision repair, while DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) can be repaired through direct joining of broken ends (non homologous end joining, NHEJ) or through recombination with the non broken sister chromosome (homologous recombination, HR). Rad50 protein plays an important role in repair of DNA damage in eukaryotic cells, and forms a complex with the Mre11 nuclease. The prokaryotic ortholog of Rad50, SbcC, also forms a complex with a nuclease, SbcD, in Escherichia coli, and has been implicated in the removal of hairpin structures that can arise during DNA replication. Ku protein is a component of the NHEJ pathway in pro- and eukaryotic cells.
A deletion of the sbcC gene rendered Bacillus subtilis cells sensitive to DNA damage caused by Mitomycin C (MMC) or by gamma irradiation. The deletion of the sbcC gene in a recN mutant background increased the sensitivity of the single recN mutant strain. SbcC was also non-epistatic with AddAB (analog of Escherichia coli RecBCD), but epistatic with RecA. A deletion of the ykoV gene encoding the B. subtilis Ku protein in a sbcC mutant strain did not resulted in an increase in sensitivity towards MMC and gamma irradiation, but exacerbated the phenotype of a recN or a recA mutant strain. In exponentially growing cells, SbcC-GFP was present throughout the cells, or as a central focus in rare cases. Upon induction of DNA damage, SbcC formed 1, rarely 2, foci on the nucleoids. Different to RecN protein, which forms repair centers at any location on the nucleoids, SbcC foci mostly co-localized with the DNA polymerase complex. In contrast to this, AddA-GFP or AddB-GFP did not form detectable foci upon addition of MMC.
Our experiments show that SbcC plays an important role in the repair of DNA inter-strand cross-links (induced by MMC), most likely through HR, and suggest that NHEJ via Ku serves as a backup DNA repair system. The cell biological experiments show that SbcC functions in close proximity to the replication machinery, suggesting that SbcC may act on stalled or collapsed replication forks. Our results show that different patterns of localization exist for DNA repair proteins, and that the B. subtilis SMC proteins RecN and SbcC play distinct roles in the repair of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC1533848  PMID: 16780573
10.  Regulation and Role of Arabidopsis CUL4-DDB1A-DDB2 in Maintaining Genome Integrity upon UV Stress 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(6):e1000093.
Plants use the energy in sunlight for photosynthesis, but as a consequence are exposed to the toxic effect of UV radiation especially on DNA. The UV-induced lesions on DNA affect both transcription and replication and can also have mutagenic consequences. Here we investigated the regulation and the function of the recently described CUL4-DDB1-DDB2 E3 ligase in the maintenance of genome integrity upon UV-stress using the model plant Arabidopsis. Physiological, biochemical, and genetic evidences indicate that this protein complex is involved in global genome repair (GGR) of UV-induced DNA lesions. Moreover, we provide evidences for crosstalks between GGR, the plant-specific photo reactivation pathway and the RAD1-RAD10 endonucleases upon UV exposure. Finally, we report that DDB2 degradation upon UV stress depends not only on CUL4, but also on the checkpoint protein kinase Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR). Interestingly, we found that DDB1A shuttles from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in an ATR-dependent manner, highlighting an upstream level of control and a novel mechanism of regulation of this E3 ligase.
Author Summary
Recent research revealed strong links between Cullin4 (CUL4)–based cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases (CRLs) and chromatin biology, including DNA replication and DNA repair. During Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER), CUL4 together with DDB1 (DNA Damage Binding protein 1) ubiquitylate an increasingly large number of substrates, including components of the NER machinery as well as various histone proteins. In contrast to mammals, plants have an efficient DNA repair pathway, mediated by photolyases that reverse UV lesions in presence of visible light, without DNA excision. Thus, it is believed that in aerial plant tissues this DNA repair pathway is predominant. In the present work we used the model plant Arabidopsis to investigate the role of CUL4-DDB1ADDB2 in global genome repair at the level of a whole organism. Using a genetic approach, we highlighted the existence of cooperative roles of different DNA repair processes that all together contribute to maintain genome integrity upon exposure to UV. Moreover, we report that DDB2 turnover not only depends on CUL4-DDB1A, but also on the ATR checkpoint protein kinase. Strikingly, we demonstrated that Arabidopsis DDB1A shuttles from the cytoplasm to the nucleus after UV stress in an ATR-dependent manner, illustrating a novel level of regulation of this class of CRL.
PMCID: PMC2396500  PMID: 18551167
11.  A prototypical Fanconi anemia pathway in lower eukaryotes? 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(20):3739-3744.
DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) present a major challenge to cells, preventing separation of the two strands of duplex DNA and blocking major chromosome transactions, including transcription and replication. Due to the complexity of removing this form of DNA damage, no single DNA repair pathway has been shown to be capable of eradicating ICLs. In eukaryotes, ICL repair is a complex process, principally because several repair pathways compete for ICL repair intermediates in a strictly cell cycle-dependent manner. Yeast cells require a combination of nucleotide excision repair, homologous recombination repair and postreplication repair/translesion DNA synthesis to remove ICLs. There are also a number of additional ICL repair factors originally identified in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, called Pso1 though 10, of which Pso2 has an apparently dedicated role in ICL repair. Mammalian cells respond to ICLs by a complex network guided by factors mutated in the inherited cancer-prone disorder Fanconi anemia (FA). Although enormous progress has been made over recent years in identifying and characterizing FA factors as well as in elucidating certain aspects of the biology of FA, the mechanistic details of the ICL repair defects in FA patients remain unknown. Dissection of the FA DNA damage response pathway has, in part, been limited by the absence of FA-like pathways in highly tractable model organisms, such as yeast. Although S. cerevisiae possesses putative homologs of the FA factors FANCM, FANCJ and FANCP (Mph1, Chl1 and Slx4, respectively) as well as of the FANCM-associated proteins MHF1 and MHF2 (Mhf1 and Mhf2), the corresponding mutants display no significant increase in sensitivity to ICLs. Nevertheless, we and others have recently shown that these FA homologs, along with several other factors, control an ICL repair pathway, which has an overlapping or redundant role with a Pso2-controlled pathway. This pathway acts in S-phase and serves to prevent ICL-stalled replication forks from collapsing into DNA double-strand breaks.
PMCID: PMC3495816  PMID: 22895051
Fanconi anemia; DNA interstrand cross-link repair; S-phase; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
12.  Alternative-NHEJ Is a Mechanistically Distinct Pathway of Mammalian Chromosome Break Repair 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(6):e1000110.
Characterizing the functional overlap and mutagenic potential of different pathways of chromosomal double-strand break (DSB) repair is important to understand how mutations arise during cancer development and treatment. To this end, we have compared the role of individual factors in three different pathways of mammalian DSB repair: alternative-nonhomologous end joining (alt-NHEJ), single-strand annealing (SSA), and homology directed repair (HDR/GC). Considering early steps of repair, we found that the DSB end-processing factors KU and CtIP affect all three pathways similarly, in that repair is suppressed by KU and promoted by CtIP. In contrast, both KU and CtIP appear dispensable for the absolute level of total-NHEJ between two tandem I-SceI–induced DSBs. During later steps of repair, we find that while the annealing and processing factors RAD52 and ERCC1 are important to promote SSA, both HDR/GC and alt-NHEJ are significantly less dependent upon these factors. As well, while disruption of RAD51 causes a decrease in HDR/GC and an increase in SSA, inhibition of this factor did not affect alt-NHEJ. These results suggest that the regulation of DSB end-processing via KU/CtIP is a common step during alt-NHEJ, SSA, and HDR/GC. However, at later steps of repair, alt-NHEJ is a mechanistically distinct pathway of DSB repair, and thus may play a unique role in mutagenesis during cancer development and therapy.
Author Summary
Changes to the sequence of DNA, or mutations, can disrupt cellular growth control genes, which can lead to cancer development. Such mutations likely arise from damage to DNA that is repaired in a way that fails to restore the original sequence. One type of DNA damage is a chromosomal double-strand break. We have developed assays to measure how these breaks are repaired, and also how such repair can lead to mutations. In particular, we present an assay to measure a pathway of repair that results in deletion mutations, often with evidence of short homologous sequences at the repair junctions (alt-NHEJ). We have compared the genetic requirements of this repair pathway in relation to other pathways of repair that use extensive homology. We find that factors KU and CtIP appear to affect the initial stages of repair of each of these pathways, regardless of the length of homology. However, these pathways appear to diverge at later steps, as relates to the role of the repair factors RAD52, ERCC1, and RAD51. Given that mutations observed in some cancer cells are consistent with alt-NHEJ repair, these mechanistic descriptions provide models for how such mutations could arise in cancer.
PMCID: PMC2430616  PMID: 18584027
13.  DNA Repair Deficiency in Neurodegeneration 
Progress in neurobiology  2011;94(2):166-200.
Deficiency in repair of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage has been linked to several neurodegenerative disorders. Many recent experimental results indicate that the post-mitotic neurons are particularly prone to accumulation of unrepaired DNA lesions potentially leading to progressive neurodegeneration. Nucleotide excision repair is the cellular pathway responsible for removing helix-distorting DNA damage and deficiency in such repair is found in a number of diseases with neurodegenerative phenotypes, including Xeroderma Pigmentosum and Cockayne syndrome. The main pathway for repairing oxidative base lesions is base excision repair, and such repair is crucial for neurons given their high rates of oxygen metabolism. Mismatch repair corrects base mispairs generated during replication and evidence indicates that oxidative DNA damage can cause this pathway to expand trinucleotide repeats, thereby causing Huntington’s disease. Single-strand breaks are common DNA lesions and are associated with the neurodegenerative diseases, ataxia-oculomotor apraxia-1 and spinocerebellar ataxia with axonal neuropathy-1. DNA double-strand breaks are toxic lesions and two main pathways exist for their repair: homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining. Ataxia telangiectasia and related disorders with defects in these pathways illustrate that such defects can lead to early childhood neurodegeneration. Aging is a risk factor for neurodegeneration and accumulation of oxidative mitochondrial DNA damage may be linked with the age-associated neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mutation in the WRN protein leads to the premature aging disease Werner syndrome, a disorder that features neurodegeneration. In this article we review the evidence linking deficiencies in the DNA repair pathways with neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3123739  PMID: 21550379
DNA repair; Genomic instability; Reactive oxidative species; Neurodegeneration; Aging; Mitochondria; Cockayne syndrome; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; Werner syndrome
14.  Expanded CAG/CTG Repeat DNA Induces a Checkpoint Response That Impacts Cell Proliferation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1001339.
Repetitive DNA elements are mutational hotspots in the genome, and their instability is linked to various neurological disorders and cancers. Although it is known that expanded trinucleotide repeats can interfere with DNA replication and repair, the cellular response to these events has not been characterized. Here, we demonstrate that an expanded CAG/CTG repeat elicits a DNA damage checkpoint response in budding yeast. Using microcolony and single cell pedigree analysis, we found that cells carrying an expanded CAG repeat frequently experience protracted cell division cycles, persistent arrests, and morphological abnormalities. These phenotypes were further exacerbated by mutations in DSB repair pathways, including homologous recombination and end joining, implicating a DNA damage response. Cell cycle analysis confirmed repeat-dependent S phase delays and G2/M arrests. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the above phenotypes are due to the activation of the DNA damage checkpoint, since expanded CAG repeats induced the phosphorylation of the Rad53 checkpoint kinase in a rad52Δ recombination deficient mutant. Interestingly, cells mutated for the MRX complex (Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2), a central component of DSB repair which is required to repair breaks at CAG repeats, failed to elicit repeat-specific arrests, morphological defects, or Rad53 phosphorylation. We therefore conclude that damage at expanded CAG/CTG repeats is likely sensed by the MRX complex, leading to a checkpoint response. Finally, we show that repeat expansions preferentially occur in cells experiencing growth delays. Activation of DNA damage checkpoints in repeat-containing cells could contribute to the tissue degeneration observed in trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases.
Author Summary
Expansion of a CAG/CTG trinucleotide repeat is the causative mutation for multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington's disease, myotonic dystrophy, and multiple types of spinocerebellar ataxias. Two reasons for the cell death that occurs in these diseases are toxicity of the repeat-containing RNA and of the polyglutamine-containing protein product. Although the expanded repeat can interfere with DNA replication and repair, it was not known whether the presence of the repeat within the DNA causes any additional cellular toxicity. In this study, we show that an expanded CAG/CTG tract placed within the chromosome of the model eukaryote, budding yeast, elicits a cellular response that interferes with cell growth and division. The effect is enhanced when DNA repair pathways, particularly double-strand break repair, are compromised. Moreover, cells experiencing an arrest were more likely to have undergone further repeat expansions. We show that the conserved MRX protein complex locates to the expanded repeat and is required to sense the damage and activate the DNA damage response. Our results suggest that DNA damage at expanded CAG/CTG repeats could contribute to both tissue degeneration and further repeat instability in affected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3060079  PMID: 21437275
15.  FANCJ/BACH1 Acetylation at Lysine 1249 Regulates the DNA Damage Response 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(7):e1002786.
BRCA1 promotes DNA repair through interactions with multiple proteins, including CtIP and FANCJ (also known as BRIP1/BACH1). While CtIP facilitates DNA end resection when de-acetylated, the function of FANCJ in repair processing is less well defined. Here, we report that FANCJ is also acetylated. Preventing FANCJ acetylation at lysine 1249 does not interfere with the ability of cells to survive DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). However, resistance is achieved with reduced reliance on recombination. Mechanistically, FANCJ acetylation facilitates DNA end processing required for repair and checkpoint signaling. This conclusion was based on the finding that FANCJ and its acetylation were required for robust RPA foci formation, RPA phosphorylation, and Rad51 foci formation in response to camptothecin (CPT). Furthermore, both preventing and mimicking FANCJ acetylation at lysine 1249 disrupts FANCJ function in checkpoint maintenance. Thus, we propose that the dynamic regulation of FANCJ acetylation is critical for robust DNA damage response, recombination-based processing, and ultimately checkpoint maintenance.
Author Summary
The BRCA1–Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway is required for both tumor suppression and cell survival, particularly following treatment with DNA damaging agents that induce DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). ICL processing by the BRCA–FA pathway includes promotion of homologous recombination (HR) and DNA damage tolerance through translesion synthesis. However, little is known about how the BRCA–FA pathway or these ICL processing mechanisms are regulated. Here, we identify acetylation as a DNA damage–dependent regulator of the BRCA–FA protein, FANCJ. FANCJ acetylation at lysine 1249 is enhanced by expression of the histone acetyltransferase CBP and reduced by expression of histone deacetylases HDAC3 or SIRT1. Furthermore, acetylation on endogenous FANCJ is induced upon treatment of cells with agents that generate DNA lesions. Consistent with this post-translation event regulating FANCJ function during cellular DNA repair, preventing FANCJ acetylation skews ICL processing. Cells have reduced reliance on HR factor Rad54 and greater reliance on translesion synthesis polymerase polη. Our data indicate that FANCJ acetylation contributes to DNA end processing that is required for HR. Furthermore, resection-dependent checkpoint maintenance relies on the dynamic regulation of FANCJ acetylation. The implication of these findings is that FANCJ acetylation contributes to DNA repair choice within the BRCA–FA pathway.
PMCID: PMC3390368  PMID: 22792074
16.  Robustness of DNA Repair through Collective Rate Control 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(1):e1003438.
DNA repair and other chromatin-associated processes are carried out by enzymatic macromolecular complexes that assemble at specific sites on the chromatin fiber. How the rate of these molecular machineries is regulated by their constituent parts is poorly understood. Here we quantify nucleotide-excision DNA repair in mammalian cells and find that, despite the pathways' molecular complexity, repair effectively obeys slow first-order kinetics. Theoretical analysis and data-based modeling indicate that these kinetics are not due to a singular rate-limiting step. Rather, first-order kinetics emerge from the interplay of rapidly and reversibly assembling repair proteins, stochastically distributing DNA lesion repair over a broad time period. Based on this mechanism, the model predicts that the repair proteins collectively control the repair rate. Exploiting natural cell-to-cell variability, we corroborate this prediction for the lesion-recognition factor XPC and the downstream factor XPA. Our findings provide a rationale for the emergence of slow time scales in chromatin-associated processes from fast molecular steps and suggest that collective rate control might be a widespread mode of robust regulation in DNA repair and transcription.
Author Summary
The nucleotide-excision repair pathway removes mutagen-inflicted DNA lesions from the genome. Repair proteins recognize DNA lesions and form multi-protein complexes that catalyze the excision of the lesion and the re-synthesis of the excised part. Imaging the dynamics of fluorescently labeled repair proteins in living human cells has revealed that all factors continuously and rapidly exchange at repair sites. We asked how this dynamic mode of protein-complex assembly shapes the repair process. Measuring repair DNA synthesis in intact cells, we obtained a surprisingly simple result. Over the entire process, the rate is proportional to the amount of DNA lesions, where the proportionality factor is a single ‘slow’ rate constant. Such kinetic behavior is often regarded as evidence for a rate-limiting step, but we show here that it is an emergent property of the dynamic interplay of many repair proteins. As a consequence, the rate of DNA repair is a systems property that is controlled collectively by the expression levels of all repair factors. Given that transcription in living cells has similar dynamic features – rapidly exchanging components of the transcription machinery and slow bursts of mRNA synthesis – collective rate control might be a general property of chromatin-associated molecular machines.
PMCID: PMC3907289  PMID: 24499930
17.  How Chromatin Is Remodelled during DNA Repair of UV-Induced DNA Damage in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(6):e1002124.
Global genome nucleotide excision repair removes DNA damage from transcriptionally silent regions of the genome. Relatively little is known about the molecular events that initiate and regulate this process in the context of chromatin. We've shown that, in response to UV radiation–induced DNA damage, increased histone H3 acetylation at lysine 9 and 14 correlates with changes in chromatin structure, and these alterations are associated with efficient global genome nucleotide excision repair in yeast. These changes depend on the presence of the Rad16 protein. Remarkably, constitutive hyperacetylation of histone H3 can suppress the requirement for Rad7 and Rad16, two components of a global genome repair complex, during repair. This reveals the connection between histone H3 acetylation and DNA repair. Here, we investigate how chromatin structure is modified following UV irradiation to facilitate DNA repair in yeast. Using a combination of chromatin immunoprecipitation to measure histone acetylation levels, histone acetylase occupancy in chromatin, MNase digestion, or restriction enzyme endonuclease accessibility assays to analyse chromatin structure, and finally nucleotide excision repair assays to examine DNA repair, we demonstrate that global genome nucleotide excision repair drives UV-induced chromatin remodelling by controlling histone H3 acetylation levels in chromatin. The concerted action of the ATPase and C3HC4 RING domains of Rad16 combine to regulate the occupancy of the histone acetyl transferase Gcn5 on chromatin in response to UV damage. We conclude that the global genome repair complex in yeast regulates UV-induced histone H3 acetylation by controlling the accessibility of the histone acetyl transferase Gcn5 in chromatin. The resultant changes in histone H3 acetylation promote chromatin remodelling necessary for efficient repair of DNA damage. Recent evidence suggests that GCN5 plays a role in NER in human cells. Our work provides important insight into how GG-NER operates in chromatin.
Author Summary
Protection against genotoxic insult requires a network of DNA damage responses, including DNA repair. Inherited DNA repair defects cause severe clinical consequences including extreme cancer susceptibility. Despite detailed mechanistic understanding of the core reactions, little is known about the molecular events that initiate and regulate these processes as they occur in chromatin. We study the conserved nucleotide excision repair pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This pathway removes a broad spectrum of DNA damages including UV radiation–induced damage. Patients with mutations in genes involved in this process suffer dramatically elevated levels of skin and other cancers. Here we demonstrate how a group of genes involved in repair of transcriptionally silent regions of the genome, a process called global genome repair, modifies chromatin structure following UV irradiation to promote efficient removal of DNA damage from the genome. We show that the concerted action of global genome repair genes combine to regulate histone acetyl transferase accessibility to the chromatin in response to UV damage. In this way, global genome repair regulates histone H3 acetylation status, which ultimately regulates chromatin structure promoting efficient DNA repair in the genome. Our results contribute a significant advance in our understanding of how chromatin is processed during DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC3116912  PMID: 21698136
18.  Advances in Understanding the Complex Mechanisms of DNA Interstrand Cross-Link Repair 
DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) are lesions caused by a variety of endogenous metabolites, environmental exposures, and cancer chemotherapeutic agents that have two reactive groups. The common feature of these diverse lesions is that two nucleotides on opposite strands are covalently joined. ICLs prevent the separation of two DNA strands and therefore essential cellular processes including DNA replication and transcription. ICLs are mainly detected in S phase when a replication fork stalls at an ICL. Damage signaling and repair of ICLs are promoted by the Fanconi anemia pathway and numerous posttranslational modifications of DNA repair and chromatin structural proteins. ICLs are also detected and repaired in nonreplicating cells, although the mechanism is less clear. A unique feature of ICL repair is that both strands of DNA must be incised to completely remove the lesion. This is accomplished in sequential steps to prevent creating multiple double-strand breaks. Unhooking of an ICL from one strand is followed by translesion synthesis to fill the gap and create an intact duplex DNA, harboring a remnant of the ICL. Removal of the lesion from the second strand is likely accomplished by nucleotide excision repair. Inadequate repair of ICLs is particularly detrimental to rapidly dividing cells, explaining the bone marrow failure characteristic of Fanconi anemia and why cross-linking agents are efficacious in cancer therapy. Herein, recent advances in our understanding of ICLs and the biological responses they trigger are discussed.
When two nucleotides on opposite strands are covalently joined, processes such as DNA replication cannot occur. These lesions are fixed via different mechanisms, depending on the phase of the cell cycle.
PMCID: PMC4123742  PMID: 24086043
19.  Identification of novel DNA repair proteins via primary sequence, secondary structure, and homology 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:25.
DNA repair is the general term for the collection of critical mechanisms which repair many forms of DNA damage such as methylation or ionizing radiation. DNA repair has mainly been studied in experimental and clinical situations, and relatively few information-based approaches to new extracting DNA repair knowledge exist. As a first step, automatic detection of DNA repair proteins in genomes via informatics techniques is desirable; however, there are many forms of DNA repair and it is not a straightforward process to identify and classify repair proteins with a single optimal method. We perform a study of the ability of homology and machine learning-based methods to identify and classify DNA repair proteins, as well as scan vertebrate genomes for the presence of novel repair proteins. Combinations of primary sequence polypeptide frequency, secondary structure, and homology information are used as feature information for input to a Support Vector Machine (SVM).
We identify that SVM techniques are capable of identifying portions of DNA repair protein datasets without admitting false positives; at low levels of false positive tolerance, homology can also identify and classify proteins with good performance. Secondary structure information provides improved performance compared to using primary structure alone. Furthermore, we observe that machine learning methods incorporating homology information perform best when data is filtered by some clustering technique. Analysis by applying these methodologies to the scanning of multiple vertebrate genomes confirms a positive correlation between the size of a genome and the number of DNA repair protein transcripts it is likely to contain, and simultaneously suggests that all organisms have a non-zero minimum number of repair genes. In addition, the scan result clusters several organisms' repair abilities in an evolutionarily consistent fashion. Analysis also identifies several functionally unconfirmed proteins that are highly likely to be involved in the repair process. A new web service, INTREPED, has been made available for the immediate search and annotation of DNA repair proteins in newly sequenced genomes.
Despite complexity due to a multitude of repair pathways, combinations of sequence, structure, and homology with Support Vector Machines offer good methods in addition to existing homology searches for DNA repair protein identification and functional annotation. Most importantly, this study has uncovered relationships between the size of a genome and a genome's available repair repetoire, and offers a number of new predictions as well as a prediction service, both which reduce the search time and cost for novel repair genes and proteins.
PMCID: PMC2660303  PMID: 19154573
20.  Lysine 63-Polyubiquitination Guards against Translesion Synthesis–Induced Mutations 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(7):e116.
Eukaryotic cells possess several mechanisms to protect the integrity of their DNA against damage. These include cell-cycle checkpoints, DNA-repair pathways, and also a distinct DNA damage–tolerance system that allows recovery of replication forks blocked at sites of DNA damage. In both humans and yeast, lesion bypass and restart of DNA synthesis can occur through an error-prone pathway activated following mono-ubiquitination of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a protein found at sites of replication, and recruitment of specialized translesion synthesis polymerases. In yeast, there is evidence for a second, error-free, pathway that requires modification of PCNA with non-proteolytic lysine 63-linked polyubiquitin (K63-polyUb) chains. Here we demonstrate that formation of K63-polyUb chains protects human cells against translesion synthesis–induced mutations by promoting recovery of blocked replication forks through an alternative error-free mechanism. Furthermore, we show that polyubiquitination of PCNA occurs in UV-irradiated human cells. Our findings indicate that K63-polyubiquitination guards against environmental carcinogenesis and contributes to genomic stability.
Genome instability is associated with increased cancer risk, and thus considerable effort has been put into unraveling the mechanisms underlying genome surveillance. Guarding the integrity of DNA are a number of DNA-repair and cell cycle–control systems. Insight into how these pathways become activated is crucially important to the understanding of carcinogenesis and in the development of cancer treatments. This study concerns a distinct pathway that promotes the tolerance of DNA damage during its replication phase. Prior attempts to investigate this pathway in human cells have been difficult due to extensive redundancy in the genes that carry out this process. Previous knowledge from lower organisms suggested the requirement for enzymes capable of constructing a chain of ubiquitin molecules linked in a specific manner. The authors used a novel approach to disrupt the formation of these ubiquitin chains in human cells and found that this caused a significant increase in mutations after exposure to UV light. Several lines of evidence implicate a family of error-prone enzymes, called translesion synthesis polymerases, in the formation of these mutations. Furthermore, they provide evidence suggesting that proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), a protein found at sites of replication, is the relevant target of these chains in human cells. These findings indicate that polyubiquitination guards against environmental carcinogenesis and contributes to genomic stability.
PMCID: PMC1513265  PMID: 16789823
21.  Deficiency of Double-Strand DNA Break Repair Does Not Impair Mycobacterium tuberculosis Virulence in Multiple Animal Models of Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(8):3177-3185.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis persistence within its human host requires mechanisms to resist the effector molecules of host immunity, which exert their bactericidal effects through damaging pathogen proteins, membranes, and DNA. Substantial evidence indicates that bacterial pathogens, including M. tuberculosis, require DNA repair systems to repair the DNA damage inflicted by the host during infection, but the role of double-strand DNA break (DSB) repair systems is unclear. Double-strand DNA breaks are the most cytotoxic form of DNA damage and must be repaired for chromosome replication to proceed. M. tuberculosis elaborates three genetically distinct DSB repair systems: homologous recombination (HR), nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), and single-strand annealing (SSA). NHEJ, which repairs DSBs in quiescent cells, may be particularly relevant to M. tuberculosis latency. However, very little information is available about the phenotype of DSB repair-deficient M. tuberculosis in animal models of infection. Here we tested M. tuberculosis strains lacking NHEJ (a Δku ΔligD strain), HR (a ΔrecA strain), or both (a ΔrecA Δku strain) in C57BL/6J mice, C3HeB/FeJ mice, guinea pigs, and a mouse hollow-fiber model of infection. We found no difference in bacterial load, histopathology, or host mortality between wild-type and DSB repair mutant strains in any model of infection. These results suggest that the animal models tested do not inflict DSBs on the mycobacterial chromosome, that other repair pathways can compensate for the loss of NHEJ and HR, or that DSB repair is not required for M. tuberculosis pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4136208  PMID: 24842925
22.  Xpf and Not the Fanconi Anaemia Proteins or Rev3 Accounts for the Extreme Resistance to Cisplatin in Dictyostelium discoideum 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(9):e1000645.
Organisms like Dictyostelium discoideum, often referred to as DNA damage “extremophiles”, can survive exposure to extremely high doses of radiation and DNA crosslinking agents. These agents form highly toxic DNA crosslinks that cause extensive DNA damage. However, little is known about how Dictyostelium and the other “extremophiles” can tolerate and repair such large numbers of DNA crosslinks. Here we describe a comprehensive genetic analysis of crosslink repair in Dictyostelium discoideum. We analyse three gene groups that are crucial for a replication-coupled repair process that removes DNA crosslinks in higher eukarya: The Fanconi anaemia pathway (FA), translesion synthesis (TLS), and nucleotide excision repair. Gene disruption studies unexpectedly reveal that the FA genes and the TLS enzyme Rev3 play minor roles in tolerance to crosslinks in Dictyostelium. However, disruption of the Xpf nuclease subcomponent results in striking hypersensitivity to crosslinks. Genetic interaction studies reveal that although Xpf functions with FA and TLS gene products, most Xpf mediated repair is independent of these two gene groups. These results suggest that Dictyostelium utilises a distinct Xpf nuclease-mediated repair process to remove crosslinked DNA. Other DNA damage–resistant organisms and chemoresistant cancer cells might adopt a similar strategy to develop resistance to DNA crosslinking agents.
Author Summary
Organisms are constantly exposed to environmental and endogenous molecules that chemically modify the DNA in their genomes. A particularly pernicious chemical modification is when the two strands of DNA are crosslinked. These crosslinks must be removed so that genomes can be copied, and the damage caused by their persistence is often exploited in cancer chemotherapy. It is also no surprise that all organisms have developed effective means to remove these lesions, and work in prokaryotes and eukaryotes has shown that crosslinks are removed by the concerted action of certain DNA repair pathways. Whilst the obvious route of accumulating crosslinks is by exposure to anti-cancer drugs, these lesions may also arise spontaneously in DNA. This could be why inherited inactivation of one of the crosslink repair pathways results in the catastrophic human illness Fanconi anaemia. Here we determine how the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, an organism that is unusually resistant to DNA-damaging agents, removes crosslinks. Our results indicate that this organism has evolved a distinct strategy to remove these lesions. More specifically, we discover that a particular nuclease subcomponent removes the crosslinks by a distinct repair process. We postulate that this strategy to remove crosslinks could be used by other DNA damage–resistant organisms and also by cancer cells that have developed resistance to chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2730050  PMID: 19763158
23.  ZTF-8 Interacts with the 9-1-1 Complex and Is Required for DNA Damage Response and Double-Strand Break Repair in the C. elegans Germline 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004723.
Germline mutations in DNA repair genes are linked to tumor progression. Furthermore, failure in either activating a DNA damage checkpoint or repairing programmed meiotic double-strand breaks (DSBs) can impair chromosome segregation. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis for DNA damage response (DDR) and DSB repair (DSBR) within the germline is highly important. Here we define ZTF-8, a previously uncharacterized protein conserved from worms to humans, as a novel factor involved in the repair of both mitotic and meiotic DSBs as well as in meiotic DNA damage checkpoint activation in the C. elegans germline. ztf-8 mutants exhibit specific sensitivity to γ-irradiation and hydroxyurea, mitotic nuclear arrest at S-phase accompanied by activation of the ATL-1 and CHK-1 DNA damage checkpoint kinases, as well as accumulation of both mitotic and meiotic recombination intermediates, indicating that ZTF-8 functions in DSBR. However, impaired meiotic DSBR progression partially fails to trigger the CEP-1/p53-dependent DNA damage checkpoint in late pachytene, also supporting a role for ZTF-8 in meiotic DDR. ZTF-8 partially co-localizes with the 9-1-1 DDR complex and interacts with MRT-2/Rad1, a component of this complex. The human RHINO protein rescues the phenotypes observed in ztf-8 mutants, suggesting functional conservation across species. We propose that ZTF-8 is involved in promoting repair at stalled replication forks and meiotic DSBs by transducing DNA damage checkpoint signaling via the 9-1-1 pathway. Our findings define a conserved function for ZTF-8/RHINO in promoting genomic stability in the germline.
Author Summary
Proper response to DNA damage and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is important to maintain genomic integrity and promote both accurate chromosome segregation and tumor suppression. Here we define the roles of a previously uncharacterized and conserved protein, ZTF-8, which is required for proper DNA damage checkpoint activation as well as DSB repair. Specifically, we provide a direct demonstration that ZTF-8 participates in both mitotic and meiotic DSB repair and in the meiotic DNA damage checkpoint via interacting with the 9-1-1 complex in the C. elegans germline. We propose that ZTF-8 is involved in promoting repair at blocked replication fork sites and meiotic DSBs in part by transducing DNA damage checkpoint signaling via the 9-1-1 DNA damage response complex.
PMCID: PMC4199516  PMID: 25329393
24.  Expression profile of genes coding for DNA repair in human oocytes using pangenomic microarrays, with a special focus on ROS linked decays 
To determine the level of expression for mRNAs that regulate DNA repair activity in oocytes at the germinal vesicle (GV) stage. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been shown to play a major role in the appearance of deleterious DNA decays, and this study focuses on the repair of damage linked to decay caused by the action of ROS. The oocyte needs a mechanism for repairing DNA decays in the early preimplantation embryo before the onset of genomic activation, since in the absence of repair, residual DNA damage would lead to either apoptosis or tolerance. Tolerance of DNA damage is a source of potential mutations.
GV oocytes were selected for this study, both for the ethical reason that they are unsuitable for patient treatment, and because no transcription takes place during the period from GV to MII and then prior to genomic activation. The GV oocyte is therefore a good model for looking at DNA during the first cleavages of early preimplantation development. Six cohorts of GV oocytes were pooled for extraction of mRNA; the DNA was analysed using Affimetrix HG-UG133 Plus 2, containing 54,675 probe sets; spike and housekeeping genes were also added as internal controls.
In GV oocytes, DNA repair pathways for oxidized bases are redundant. One step repair procedure (OSR), BER (base excision repair), MMR (mismatch repair) and NER (Nucleotide excision repair) are present. All the recognition proteins are also present. The chromatin assembly factors necessary for the maintenance of genomic stability are highly expressed.
Gene expression analysis shows that the oocyte does not allow a high level of tolerance for DNA decays. This regulatory mechanism should avoid transmitting mutations into the next generation.
PMCID: PMC3455023  PMID: 17899356
Human oocyte; ROS; mRNA; DNA repair
25.  Targeting and Processing of Site-specific DNA Interstrand Crosslinks 
DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are among the most cytotoxic types of DNA damage, and thus ICL-inducing agents such as cyclophosphamide, melphalan, cisplatin, psoralen and mitomycin C have been used clinically as anti-cancer drugs for decades. ICLs can also be formed endogenously as a consequence of cellular metabolic processes. ICL-inducing agents continue to be among the most effective chemotherapeutic treatments for many cancers; however, treatment with these agents can lead to secondary malignancies, in part due to mutagenic processing of the DNA lesions. The mechanisms of ICL repair have been characterized more thoroughly in bacteria and yeast than in mammalian cells. Thus, a better understanding the molecular mechanisms of ICL processing offers the potential to improve the efficacy of these drugs in cancer therapy. In mammalian cells it is thought that ICLs are repaired by the coordination of proteins from several pathways, including nucleotide excision repair (NER), base excision repair (BER), mismatch repair (MMR), homologous recombination (HR), translesion synthesis (TLS), and proteins involved in Fanconi anemia (FA). In this review, we focus on the potential functions of NER, MMR, and HR proteins in the repair of and response to ICLs in human cells and in mice. We will also discuss a unique approach, using psoralen covalently linked to triplex-forming oligonucleotides to direct ICLs to specific sites in the mammalian genome.
PMCID: PMC2895014  PMID: 20196133
Psoralen; DNA interstrand crosslink; triplex; DNA repair

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