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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.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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.
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  DNA damage and repair in plants – from models to crops 
The genomic integrity of every organism is constantly challenged by endogenous and exogenous DNA-damaging factors. Mutagenic agents cause reduced stability of plant genome and have a deleterious effect on development, and in the case of crop species lead to yield reduction. It is crucial for all organisms, including plants, to develop efficient mechanisms for maintenance of the genome integrity. DNA repair processes have been characterized in bacterial, fungal, and mammalian model systems. The description of these processes in plants, in contrast, was initiated relatively recently and has been focused largely on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Consequently, our knowledge about DNA repair in plant genomes - particularly in the genomes of crop plants - is by far more limited. However, the relatively small size of the Arabidopsis genome, its rapid life cycle and availability of various transformation methods make this species an attractive model for the study of eukaryotic DNA repair mechanisms and mutagenesis. Moreover, abnormalities in DNA repair which proved to be lethal for animal models are tolerated in plant genomes, although sensitivity to DNA damaging agents is retained. Due to the high conservation of DNA repair processes and factors mediating them among eukaryotes, genes and proteins that have been identified in model species may serve to identify homologous sequences in other species, including crop plants, in which these mechanisms are poorly understood. Crop breeding programs have provided remarkable advances in food quality and yield over the last century. Although the human population is predicted to “peak” by 2050, further advances in yield will be required to feed this population. Breeding requires genetic diversity. The biological impact of any mutagenic agent used for the creation of genetic diversity depends on the chemical nature of the induced lesions and on the efficiency and accuracy of their repair. More recent targeted mutagenesis procedures also depend on host repair processes, with different pathways yielding different products. Enhanced understanding of DNA repair processes in plants will inform and accelerate the engineering of crop genomes via both traditional and targeted approaches.
PMCID: PMC4617055  PMID: 26557130
Arabidopsis; crop plants; DNA damage; DNA repair; mutagenesis
11.  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
12.  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
13.  Crystal Structure of the FeS Cluster–Containing Nucleotide Excision Repair Helicase XPD 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(6):e149.
DNA damage recognition by the nucleotide excision repair pathway requires an initial step identifying helical distortions in the DNA and a proofreading step verifying the presence of a lesion. This proofreading step is accomplished in eukaryotes by the TFIIH complex. The critical damage recognition component of TFIIH is the XPD protein, a DNA helicase that unwinds DNA and identifies the damage. Here, we describe the crystal structure of an archaeal XPD protein with high sequence identity to the human XPD protein that reveals how the structural helicase framework is combined with additional elements for strand separation and DNA scanning. Two RecA-like helicase domains are complemented by a 4Fe4S cluster domain, which has been implicated in damage recognition, and an α-helical domain. The first helicase domain together with the helical and 4Fe4S-cluster–containing domains form a central hole with a diameter sufficient in size to allow passage of a single stranded DNA. Based on our results, we suggest a model of how DNA is bound to the XPD protein, and can rationalize several of the mutations in the human XPD gene that lead to one of three severe diseases, xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne syndrome, and trichothiodystrophy.
Author Summary
Preserving the structural integrity of DNA, and hence the genetic information stored in this molecule, is essential for cellular survival. It is estimated that the DNA in each human cell acquires about 104 lesions per day. Consequently, efficient DNA repair mechanisms have evolved to protect the genome. One of these DNA repair mechanisms, nucleotide excision repair (NER), is present in all organisms and is unique in its ability to repair a broad range of damage. In humans, NER is the major repair mechanism protecting DNA from damage induced by ultraviolet light. Defects in the genes and proteins responsible for NER can lead to one of three severe diseases: xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne syndrome, and trichothiodystrophy. The XPD protein is one of the key components of a ten-protein complex and is essential to initiate NER. In particular, the XPD protein verifies the presence of damage to the DNA and thereby allows DNA repair to proceed. We have solved the 3-dimensional structure of the XPD protein, and show how XPD has assembled several domains to form a donut-shaped molecule, which is able to separate two DNA strands and scan the DNA for damage. The structure also helps to explain why some of the mutations that have been identified in humans are associated with disease.
The structure of the DNA repair protein XPD provides insights into how the protein binds and recognizes damaged DNA and how mutations inXPD disrupt its function and lead to disease.
PMCID: PMC2435149  PMID: 18578568
14.  A DNA repair pathway score predicts survival in human multiple myeloma: the potential for therapeutic strategy 
Oncotarget  2014;5(9):2487-2498.
DNA repair is critical to resolve extrinsic or intrinsic DNA damage to ensure regulated gene transcription and DNA replication. These pathways control repair of double strand breaks, interstrand crosslinks, and nucleotide lesions occurring on single strands. Distinct DNA repair pathways are highly inter-linked for the fast and optimal DNA repair. A deregulation of DNA repair pathways may maintain and promote genetic instability and drug resistance to genotoxic agents in tumor cells by specific mechanisms that tolerate or rapidly bypass lesions to drive proliferation and abrogate cell death. Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a plasma cell disorder characterized by genetic instability and poor outcome for some patients, in which the compendium of DNA repair pathways has as yet not been assessed for a disease-specific prognostic relevance. We design a DNA repair risk score based on the expression of genes coding for proteins involved in DNA repair in MM cells. From a consensus list of 84 DNA repair genes, 17 had a bad prognostic value and 5 a good prognostic value for both event-free and overall survival of previously-untreated MM patients. The prognostic information provided by these 22 prognostic genes was summed within a global DNA repair score (DRScore) to take into account the tight linkage of repair pathways. DRscore was strongly predictive for both patients' event free and overall survivals. Also, DRscore has the potential to identify MM patients whose tumor cells are dependent on specific DNA repair pathways to design treatments that induce synthetic lethality by exploiting addiction to deregulated DNA repair pathways.
PMCID: PMC4058021  PMID: 24809299
DNA repair; Multiple Myeloma; prognosis
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.  DNAtraffic—a new database for systems biology of DNA dynamics during the cell life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D1235-D1240.
DNAtraffic ( is dedicated to be a unique comprehensive and richly annotated database of genome dynamics during the cell life. It contains extensive data on the nomenclature, ontology, structure and function of proteins related to the DNA integrity mechanisms such as chromatin remodeling, histone modifications, DNA repair and damage response from eight organisms: Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Escherichia coli and Arabidopsis thaliana. DNAtraffic contains comprehensive information on the diseases related to the assembled human proteins. DNAtraffic is richly annotated in the systemic information on the nomenclature, chemistry and structure of DNA damage and their sources, including environmental agents or commonly used drugs targeting nucleic acids and/or proteins involved in the maintenance of genome stability. One of the DNAtraffic database aim is to create the first platform of the combinatorial complexity of DNA network analysis. Database includes illustrations of pathways, damage, proteins and drugs. Since DNAtraffic is designed to cover a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines, it has to be extensively linked to numerous external data sources. Our database represents the result of the manual annotation work aimed at making the DNAtraffic much more useful for a wide range of systems biology applications.
PMCID: PMC3245060  PMID: 22110027
17.  Genome analysis of DNA repair genes in the alpha proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:17.
The integrity of DNA molecules is fundamental for maintaining life. The DNA repair proteins protect organisms against genetic damage, by removal of DNA lesions or helping to tolerate them. DNA repair genes are best known from the gamma-proteobacterium Escherichia coli, which is the most understood bacterial model. However, genome sequencing raises questions regarding uniformity and ubiquity of these DNA repair genes and pathways, reinforcing the need for identifying genes and proteins, which may respond to DNA damage in other bacteria.
In this study, we employed a bioinformatic approach, to analyse and describe the open reading frames potentially related to DNA repair from the genome of the alpha-proteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus. This was performed by comparison with known DNA repair related genes found in public databases. As expected, although C. crescentus and E. coli bacteria belong to separate phylogenetic groups, many of their DNA repair genes are very similar. However, some important DNA repair genes are absent in the C. crescentus genome and other interesting functionally related gene duplications are present, which do not occur in E. coli. These include DNA ligases, exonuclease III (xthA), endonuclease III (nth), O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (ada gene), photolyase-like genes, and uracil-DNA-glycosylases. On the other hand, the genes imuA and imuB, which are involved in DNA damage induced mutagenesis, have recently been described in C. crescentus, but are absent in E. coli. Particularly interesting are the potential atypical phylogeny of one of the photolyase genes in alpha-proteobacteria, indicating an origin by horizontal transfer, and the duplication of the Ada orthologs, which have diverse structural configurations, including one that is still unique for C. crescentus.
The absence and the presence of certain genes are discussed and predictions are made considering the particular aspects of the C. crescentus among other known DNA repair pathways. The observed differences enlarge what is known for DNA repair in the Bacterial world, and provide a useful framework for further experimental studies in this organism.
PMCID: PMC1839093  PMID: 17352799
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Replication and Recombination Factors Contributing to Recombination-Dependent Bypass of DNA Lesions by Template Switch 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(11):e1001205.
Damage tolerance mechanisms mediating damage-bypass and gap-filling are crucial for genome integrity. A major damage tolerance pathway involves recombination and is referred to as template switch. Template switch intermediates were visualized by 2D gel electrophoresis in the proximity of replication forks as X-shaped structures involving sister chromatid junctions. The homologous recombination factor Rad51 is required for the formation/stabilization of these intermediates, but its mode of action remains to be investigated. By using a combination of genetic and physical approaches, we show that the homologous recombination factors Rad55 and Rad57, but not Rad59, are required for the formation of template switch intermediates. The replication-proficient but recombination-defective rfa1-t11 mutant is normal in triggering a checkpoint response following DNA damage but is impaired in X-structure formation. The Exo1 nuclease also has stimulatory roles in this process. The checkpoint kinase, Rad53, is required for X-molecule formation and phosphorylates Rad55 robustly in response to DNA damage. Although Rad55 phosphorylation is thought to activate recombinational repair under conditions of genotoxic stress, we find that Rad55 phosphomutants do not affect the efficiency of X-molecule formation. We also examined the DNA polymerase implicated in the DNA synthesis step of template switch. Deficiencies in translesion synthesis polymerases do not affect X-molecule formation, whereas DNA polymerase δ, required also for bulk DNA synthesis, plays an important role. Our data indicate that a subset of homologous recombination factors, together with DNA polymerase δ, promote the formation of template switch intermediates that are then preferentially dissolved by the action of the Sgs1 helicase in association with the Top3 topoisomerase rather than resolved by Holliday Junction nucleases. Our results allow us to propose the choreography through which different players contribute to template switch in response to DNA damage and to distinguish this process from other recombination-mediated processes promoting DNA repair.
Author Summary
Completion of DNA replication is essential for cellular survival. Both endogenous processes and exogenous DNA damage can lead to lesions that impede DNA replication or result in an accumulation of DNA gaps. Recombination plays an important role in facilitating replication completion under conditions of replication stress or DNA damage. One DNA damage tolerance mechanism involving recombination factors, template switch, uses the information on the newly synthesized sister chromatid to fill in the gaps arising during replication under damaging conditions. This process leads to the formation of repair structures involving sister chromatid junctions in the proximity of replication forks. The template switch structures can be detected by 2D gel electrophoresis of replication intermediates as cruciform, X-shaped intermediates. Additional factors and regulatory pathways are required for the resolution of such structures to prevent their toxic effects. In this work, we have dissected the recombination/replication factors required for the formation of template switch intermediates. Another recombination mechanism, which has been implicated in the restart of collapsed forks, is break-induced replication (BIR). This study allows us to identify the core factors required for template switch and to distinguish this process from other recombination-mediated processes promoting DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC2978687  PMID: 21085632
21.  The MRX Complex Ensures NHEJ Fidelity through Multiple Pathways Including Xrs2-FHA–Dependent Tel1 Activation 
PLoS Genetics  2016;12(3):e1005942.
Because DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are one of the most cytotoxic DNA lesions and often cause genomic instability, precise repair of DSBs is vital for the maintenance of genomic stability. Xrs2/Nbs1 is a multi-functional regulatory subunit of the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2/Nbs1 (MRX/N) complex, and its function is critical for the primary step of DSB repair, whether by homologous recombination (HR) or non-homologous end joining. In human NBS1, mutations result truncation of the N-terminus region, which contains a forkhead-associated (FHA) domain, cause Nijmegen breakage syndrome. Here we show that the Xrs2 FHA domain of budding yeast is required both to suppress the imprecise repair of DSBs and to promote the robust activation of Tel1 in the DNA damage response pathway. The role of the Xrs2 FHA domain in Tel1 activation was independent of the Tel1-binding activity of the Xrs2 C terminus, which mediates Tel1 recruitment to DSB ends. Both the Xrs2 FHA domain and Tel1 were required for the timely removal of the Ku complex from DSB ends, which correlates with a reduced frequency of imprecise end-joining. Thus, the Xrs2 FHA domain and Tel1 kinase work in a coordinated manner to maintain DSB repair fidelity.
Author Summary
Genomic DNA provides the essential blueprint for life, and therefore living organisms have several mechanisms for maintaining the stability of their own genomes. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are one of the most severe forms of DNA damage, which, without precise repair, can provoke a loss of genetic information, leading to tumor formation. DSBs are repaired by two distinct pathways, homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), which can be precise or imprecise. In addition, the DNA damage response (DDR) is essential in the cell to integrate multiple events that need to occur after damage: activation of DNA repair enzymes, selection of repair pathway and control of cell cycle progression, transcription, and so on. Here we show that different domains of Xrs2, a central DSB repair protein in budding yeast whose human ortholog, Nbs1, is linked to a human hereditary disorder with a high risk of cancer, is required not only for repair pathway choice but also for full activation of DDR. This result indicates that DSB repair and the DDR are coordinated at multiple levels to ensure precise repair and thus to maintain genomic integrity.
PMCID: PMC4798412  PMID: 26990569
22.  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
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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