RNF169 competes with repair factors to bind to ubiquitylated chromatin at sites of DNA damage, influencing repair pathway utilization.
Nonproteolytic ubiquitylation of chromatin surrounding deoxyribonucleic acid double-strand breaks (DSBs), mediated by the RNF8/RNF168 ubiquitin ligases, plays a key role in recruiting repair factors, including 53BP1 and BRCA1, to reestablish genome integrity. In this paper, we show that human RNF169, an uncharacterized E3 ubiquitin ligase paralogous to RNF168, accumulated in DSB repair foci through recognition of RNF168-catalyzed ubiquitylation products by its motif interacting with ubiquitin domain. Unexpectedly, RNF169 was dispensable for chromatin ubiquitylation and ubiquitin-dependent accumulation of repair factors at DSB sites. Instead, RNF169 functionally competed with 53BP1 and RAP80–BRCA1 for association with RNF168-modified chromatin independent of its catalytic activity, limiting the magnitude of their recruitment to DSB sites. By delaying accumulation of 53BP1 and RAP80 at damaged chromatin, RNF169 stimulated homologous recombination and restrained nonhomologous end joining, affecting cell survival after DSB infliction. Our results show that RNF169 functions in a noncanonical fashion to harness RNF168-mediated protein recruitment to DSB-containing chromatin, thereby contributing to regulation of DSB repair pathway utilization.
Mutations affecting the BRCT domains of the breast cancer–associated tumor suppressor BRCA1 disrupt the recruitment of this protein to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). The molecular structures at DSBs recognized by BRCA1 are presently unknown. We report the interaction of the BRCA1 BRCT domain with RAP80, a ubiquitin-binding protein. RAP80 targets a complex containing the BRCA1-BARD1 (BRCA1-associated ring domain protein 1) E3 ligase and the deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) BRCC36 to MDC1-γH2AX–dependent lysine6- and lysine63-linked ubiquitin polymers at DSBs. These events are required for cell cycle checkpoint and repair responses to ionizing radiation, implicating ubiquitin chain recognition and turnover in the BRCA1-mediated repair of DSBs.
Ubiquitylation plays key roles in DNA damage signal transduction. The current model envisions that lysine63-linked ubiquitin chains, via the concerted action of E3 ubiquitin ligases RNF8-RNF168, are built at DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to effectively assemble DNA damage-repair factors for proper checkpoint control and DNA repair. We found that RNF168 is a short-lived protein that is stabilized by the deubiquitylating enzyme USP34 in response to DNA damage. In the absence of USP34, RNF168 is rapidly degraded, resulting in attenuated DSB-associated ubiquitylation, defective recruitment of BRCA1 and 53BP1 and compromised cell survival after ionizing radiation. We propose that USP34 promotes a feed-forward loop to enforce ubiquitin signaling at DSBs and highlight critical roles of ubiquitin dynamics in genome stability maintenance.
Maintaining genomic integrity is critical to avoid life-threatening disorders, such as premature aging, neurodegeneration and cancer. A multiprotein cascade operates at sites of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to recognize, signal and repair damage. RNF168 (ring-finger nuclear factor) contributes to this emerging pathway of several E3 ubiquitin ligases that perform sequential ubiquitylations on damaged chromosomes, chromatin modifications essential for aggregation of repair complexes at the DSB sites. Here, we report the clinical and cellular phenotypes associated with a newly identified homozygous nonsense mutation in the RNF168 gene of a patient with a syndrome mimicking ataxia-telangiectasia. The mutation eliminated both of RNF168's ubiquitin-binding motifs, thus blocking progression of the ubiquitylation cascade and retention of repair proteins including tumor suppressors 53BP1 and BRCA1 at DSB sites, consistent with the observed defective DNA damage checkpoints/repair and pronounced radiosensitivity. Rapid screening for RNF168 pathway deficiency was achieved by scoring patients' lymphoblastoid cells for irradiation-induced nuclear foci containing 53BP1, a robust assay we propose for future diagnostic applications. The formation of radiation-induced DSB repair foci was rescued by ectopic expression of wild-type RNF168 in patient's cells, further causally linking the RNF168 mutation with the pathology. Clinically, this novel syndrome featured ataxia, telangiectasia, elevated alphafetoprotein, immunodeficiency, microcephaly and pulmonary failure and has implications for the differential diagnosis of autosomal recessive ataxias.
DNA damage signaling and repair; RNF168 and BRCA1 ubiquitin ligases; ionizing radiation-induced 53BP1 foci; ataxia-telangiectasia mimicking syndrome; alphafetoprotein, microcephaly
DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) initiate extensive local and global alterations in chromatin structure, many of which depend on the ATM kinase. Histone H2A ubiquitylation (uH2A) on chromatin surrounding DSBs is one example, thought to be important for recruitment of repair proteins. uH2A is also implicated in transcriptional repression; an intriguing yet untested hypothesis is that this function is conserved in the context of DSBs. Using a novel reporter that allows for visualization of repair protein recruitment and local transcription in single cells, we describe an ATM-dependent transcriptional silencing program in cis to DSBs. ATM prevents RNA polymerase II elongation dependent chromatin decondensation at regions distal to DSBs. Silencing is partially dependent on E3 ubiquitin ligases RNF8 and RNF168, while reversal of silencing relies on the uH2A deubiquitylating enzyme USP16. These findings give insight into the role of post-translational modifications in mediating cross talk between diverse processes occurring on chromatin.
ATM; DNA repair; H2A ubiquitin; transcription
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) represent the most toxic DNA damage arisen from endogenous and exogenous genotoxic stresses and are known to be repaired by either homologous recombination or nonhomologous end-joining processes. Although many proteins have been identified to participate in either of the processes, the whole processes still remain elusive. Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are epigenetic chromatin modifiers involved in gene silencing, cancer development and the maintenance of embryonic and adult stem cells. By screening proteins responding to DNA damage using laser micro-irradiation, we found that PHF1, a human homolog of Drosophila polycomb-like, Pcl, protein, was recruited to DSBs immediately after irradiation and dissociated within 10 min. The accumulation at DSBs is Ku70/Ku80-dependent, and knockdown of PHF1 leads to X-ray sensitivity and increases the frequency of homologous recombination in HeLa cell. We found that PHF1 interacts physically with Ku70/Ku80, suggesting that PHF1 promotes nonhomologous end-joining processes. Furthermore, we found that PHF1 interacts with a number of proteins involved in DNA damage responses, RAD50, SMC1, DHX9 and p53, further suggesting that PHF1, besides the function in PcG, is involved in genome maintenance processes.
Bmi-1, a member of the polycomb family, it is involved in self renewal of stem cells and functions as an oncogene in many malignant human cancer types. Recent studies have demonstrated that Bmi-1 is a predictive factor for poor patient prognosis. However, the underlying mechanisms of radioresistance mediated by Bmi-1 are poorly understood. In this study, the dose-survival relationship was analyzed using a clonogenic survival assay and combined radiation treatment with Bmi-1 overexpression or silencing. DNA double-strand break (DSB) and repair was assessed by immunofluorescence staining of γH2AX foci. In addition, mitochondrial membrane potential was detected between Bmi-1 knockdown and control MCF-7 cells after irradiation. Apoptosis and cell cycle were evaluated by flow cytometry. We found that exposure of MCF-7 cells overexpressing Bmi-1 to ionizing radiation resulted in dramatically enhanced survival relative to control cells, whereas cells with silenced Bmi-1 showed markedly reduced survival. Bmi-1 inhibition significantly increased DSBs and decreased DSB repair. Furthermore, Bmi-1 knockdown induced loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and enhanced apoptosis by up-regulating p53, p21, Bax expression and down-regulating p-AKT and Bcl-2 expression. These results indicate that Bmi-1 may play an important role in radiosensitivity, and the suppression of its expression might be a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer.
Bmi-1; radioresistance; mammary carcinoma cells
NuRD is recruited to DNA double-strand breaks, where it promotes RNF8/RNF168 histone ubiquitylation and accumulation of DNA repair factors (see also related paper by Larsen et al. in this issue).
Cells respond to ionizing radiation (IR)–induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by orchestrating events that coordinate cell cycle progression and DNA repair. How cells signal and repair DSBs is not yet fully understood. A genome-wide RNA interference screen in Caenorhabditis elegans identified egr-1 as a factor that protects worm cells against IR. The human homologue of egr-1, MTA2 (metastasis-associated protein 2), is a subunit of the nucleosome-remodeling and histone deacetylation (NuRD) chromatin-remodeling complex. We show that knockdown of MTA2 and CHD4 (chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 4), the catalytic subunit (adenosine triphosphatase [ATPase]) of NuRD, leads to accumulation of spontaneous DNA damage and increased IR sensitivity. MTA2 and CHD4 accumulate in DSB-containing chromatin tracks generated by laser microirradiation. Directly at DSBs, CHD4 stimulates RNF8/RNF168-dependent formation of ubiquitin conjugates to facilitate the accrual of RNF168 and BRCA1. Finally, we show that CHD4 promotes DSB repair and checkpoint activation in response to IR. Thus, the NuRD chromatin–remodeling complex is a novel regulator of DNA damage responses that orchestrates proper signaling and repair of DSBs.
RAD18 is an ubiquitin ligase involved in replicative damage bypass and DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair processes. We found that RPA is required for the dynamic pattern of RAD18 localization during the cell cycle, and for accumulation of RAD18 at sites of γ-irradiation-induced DNA damage. In addition, RAD18 colocalizes with chromatin-associated conjugated ubiquitin and ubiquitylated H2A throughout the cell cycle and following irradiation. This localization pattern depends on the presence of an intact, ubiquitin-binding Zinc finger domain. Using a biochemical approach, we show that RAD18 directly binds to ubiquitylated H2A and several other unknown ubiquitylated chromatin components. This interaction also depends on the RAD18 Zinc finger, and increases upon the induction of DSBs by γ-irradiation. Intriguingly, RAD18 does not always colocalize with regions that show enhanced H2A ubiquitylation. In human female primary fibroblasts, where one of the two X chromosomes is inactivated to equalize X-chromosomal gene expression between male (XY) and female (XX) cells, this inactive X is enriched for ubiquitylated H2A, but only rarely accumulates RAD18. This indicates that the binding of RAD18 to ubiquitylated H2A is context-dependent. Regarding the functional relevance of RAD18 localization at DSBs, we found that RAD18 is required for recruitment of RAD9, one of the components of the 9-1-1 checkpoint complex, to these sites. Recruitment of RAD9 requires the functions of the RING and Zinc finger domains of RAD18. Together, our data indicate that association of RAD18 with DSBs through ubiquitylated H2A and other ubiquitylated chromatin components allows recruitment of RAD9, which may function directly in DSB repair, independent of downstream activation of the checkpoint kinases CHK1 and CHK2.
The histone variant H2AX is a principal component of chromatin involved in the detection, signaling, and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). H2AX is thought to operate primarily through its C-terminal S139 phosphorylation, which mediates the recruitment of DNA damage response (DDR) factors to chromatin at DSB sites. Here, we describe a comprehensive screen of 67 residues in H2AX to determine their contributions to H2AX functions. Our analysis revealed that H2AX is both sumoylated and ubiquitylated. Individual residues defective for sumoylation, ubiquitylation, and S139 phosphorylation in untreated and damaged cells were identified. Specifically, we identified an acidic triad region in both H2A and H2AX that is required in cis for their ubiquitylation. We also report the characterization of a human H2AX knockout cell line, which exhibits DDR defects, including p53 activation, following DNA damage. Collectively, this work constitutes the first genetic complementation system for a histone in human cells. Finally, our data reveal new roles for several residues in H2AX and define distinct functions for H2AX in human cells.
In this study, we examine the potential role of receptor-associated protein 80 (RAP80), a nuclear protein containing two ubiquitin-interacting motifs (UIMs), in DNA damage response and double-strand break (DSB) repair. We demonstrate that following ionizing radiation (IR) and treatment with DNA-damaging agents RAP80 translocates to discrete nuclear foci that co-localize with those of γ-H2AX. The UIMs and the region between aa 204–304 are critical for the re-localization of RAP80 to IR-induced foci (IRIF). These observations suggest that RAP80 becomes part of a DNA-repair complex at the sites of IRIF. We also demonstrate that RAP80 forms a complex with the tumor repressor BRCA1 and that this interaction is mediated through the BRCT repeats of BRCA1. The UIMs are not required for the interaction of RAP80 with BRCA1. Knockdown of RAP80 in HEK293 cells significantly reduced DSB-induced homology-directed recombination (HDR). Moreover, inhibition RAP80 expression by siRNA increased radiosensitivity, whereas increased radioresistance was observed in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells over-expression of RAP80. Taken together, our data suggest that RAP80 plays an important role in DNA damage response signaling and HDR-mediated DSB repair. We further demonstrate that RAP80 can function as a substrate of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein kinase in vitro which phosphorylates RAP80 at Ser205 and Ser402. We show that this phosphorylation is not required for the migration of RAP80 to IRIF.
RAP80; UIMC1; ubiquitin-interacting motif; DNA damage; ATM; BRCA1; BRCT
The accurate repair of chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSBs) arising from exposure to exogenous agents, such as ionizing radiation (IR) and radiomimetic drugs is crucial in maintaining genomic integrity, cellular viability and the prevention of tumorigenesis. Eukaryotic cells have evolved efficient mechanisms that sense and respond to DSBs. The DNA DSB response is facilitated by hierarchical signaling networks that orchestrate chromatin structural changes, cell-cycle checkpoints and multiple enzymatic activities to repair the broken DNA ends. Sensors and transducers signal to numerous downstream cellular effectors which function primarily by substrate posttranslational modifications including phosphorylation, acetylation, methylation and ubiquitylation. In particular, the past several years have provided important insight into the role of chromatin remodeling and histones-specific modifications to control DNA damage detection, signaling and repair. This review summarizes recently identified factors that influence this complex process and the repair of DNA DSBs in eukaryotic cells.
Chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSBs) in eukaryotes provoke a rapid, extensive modification in chromatin flanking the breaks. The DNA damage response (DDR) coordinates activation of cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis, and DNA repair networks, to ensure accurate repair and genomic integrity. The checkpoint kinase ATM plays a critical role in the initiation of DDR in response to DSBs. The early ATM-mediated phosphorylation of the histone variant H2AX proteins near DSBs leads to the subsequent binding of MDC1, which functions as a scaffold for the recruitment and assembly of many DDR mediators and effectors, including BRCA1. Recent studies have provided new insights into the mechanism by which BRCA1 and associated proteins are recruited to DNA damage foci and revealed key roles for the receptor-associated protein 80 (RAP80) and the E3 ligase RNF8 in this process. RAP80 is an ubiquitin-interaction motif (UIM) containing protein that is associated with a BRCA1/BARD1 complex through its interaction with CCDC98 (Abraxas). The UIMs of RAP80 are critical for targeting this protein complex to DSB sites. Additional studies revealed that after binding γ-H2AX, ATM-phosphorylated MDC1 is recognized by the FHA domain of RNF8, which subsequently binds the E2 conjugating enzyme UBC13. This complex catalyzes K63-linked polyubiquitination of histones H2A and γH2AX, which are then recognized by the UIMs of RAP80, thereby facilitating the recruitment of the BRCA1/BARD1/CCDC98/RAP80 protein complex to DSB sites. Depletion of RAP80 or RNF8 impairs the translocation of BRCA1 to DNA damage sites and results in defective cell cycle checkpoint control and DSB repair. In this review, we discuss this cascade of protein phosphorylation and ubiquitination and the role it plays in the control of cellular responses to genotoxic stress by regulating the interactions, localization, and function of DDR proteins.
double strand breaks; RAP80; RNF8; ubiquitination; CCDC98/Abraxas; BRCA1; UIM; MDC1
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are involved in epigenetic silencing where they function as major determinants of cell identity, stem cell pluripotency and the epigenetic gene silencing involved in cancer development. Recently numerous PcG proteins, including CBX4, have been shown to accumulate at sites of DNA damage. However, it remains unclear whether or not CBX4 or its E3 sumo ligase activity is directly involved in the DNA damage response (DDR). Here we define a novel role for CBX4 as an early DDR protein that mediates SUMO conjugation at sites of DNA lesions. DNA damage stimulates sumoylation of BMI1 by CBX4 at lysine 88, which is required for the accumulation of BMI1 at DNA damage sites. Moreover, we establish that CBX4 recruitment to the sites of laser micro-irradiation-induced DNA damage requires PARP activity but does not require H2AX, RNF8, BMI1 nor PI-3-related kinases. The importance of CBX4 in the DDR was confirmed by the depletion of CBX4, which resulted in decreased cellular resistance to ionizing radiation. Our results reveal a direct role for CBX4 in the DDR pathway.
DNA damage activates signaling pathways that lead to modification of local chromatin and recruitment of DNA repair proteins. Multiple DNA repair proteins having ubiquitin ligase activity are recruited to sites of DNA damage, where they ubiquitinate histones and other substrates. This DNA damage-induced histone ubiquitination is thought to play a critical role in mediating the DNA damage response. We now report that the polycomb protein BMI1 is rapidly recruited to sites of DNA damage, where it persists for more than 8 h. The sustained localization of BMI1 to damage sites is dependent on intact ATM and ATR and requires H2AX phosphorylation and recruitment of RNF8. BMI1 is required for DNA damage-induced ubiquitination of histone H2A at lysine 119. Loss of BMI1 leads to impaired repair of DNA double-strand breaks by homologous recombination and the accumulation of cells in G2/M. These data support a crucial role for BMI1 in the cellular response to DNA damage.
Malignant brain tumour (MBT) domain proteins are transcriptional repressors that function within Polycomb complexes. Some MBT genes are tumour suppressors, but how they prevent tumourigenesis is unknown. The Caenorhabditis elegans MBT protein LIN-61 is a member of the synMuvB chromatin-remodelling proteins that control vulval development. Here we report a new role for LIN-61: it protects the genome by promoting homologous recombination (HR) for the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). lin-61 mutants manifest numerous problems associated with defective HR in germ and somatic cells but remain proficient in meiotic recombination. They are hypersensitive to ionizing radiation and interstrand crosslinks but not UV light. Using a novel reporter system that monitors repair of a defined DSB in C. elegans somatic cells, we show that LIN-61 contributes to HR. The involvement of this MBT protein in HR raises the possibility that MBT–deficient tumours may also have defective DSB repair.
The genome is continually under threat from exogenous sources of DNA damage, as well as from sources that originate within the cell. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are arguably the most problematic type of damage as they can cause dangerous chromosome rearrangements, which can lead to cancer, as well as mutation at the break site and/or cell death. A complex network of molecular pathways, collectively referred to as the DNA damage response (DDR), have evolved to protect the cell from these threats. We have discovered a new DDR factor, LIN-61, that promotes the repair of DSBs. This is a novel and unexpected role for LIN-61, which was previously known to act as a regulator of gene transcription during development.
SUMOylation of the ubiquitin ligase HERC2 promotes efficient chromatin licensing in the vicinity of DNA double-strand breaks.
Nonproteolytic ubiquitylation of chromatin surrounding deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) double-strand breaks (DSBs) by the RNF8/RNF168/HERC2 ubiquitin ligases facilitates restoration of genome integrity by licensing chromatin to concentrate genome caretaker proteins near the lesions. In parallel, SUMOylation of so-far elusive upstream DSB regulators is also required for execution of this ubiquitin-dependent chromatin response. We show that HERC2 and RNF168 are novel DNA damage–dependent SUMOylation targets in human cells. In response to DSBs, both HERC2 and RNF168 were specifically modified with SUMO1 at DSB sites in a manner dependent on the SUMO E3 ligase PIAS4. SUMOylation of HERC2 was required for its DSB-induced association with RNF8 and for stabilizing the RNF8–Ubc13 complex. We also demonstrate that the ZZ Zinc finger in HERC2 defined a novel SUMO-specific binding module, which together with its concomitant SUMOylation and T4827 phosphorylation promoted binding to RNF8. Our findings provide novel insight into the regulatory complexity of how ubiquitylation and SUMOylation cooperate to orchestrate protein interactions with DSB repair foci.
The repair of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) is essential for cell viability and genome stability. Aberrant repair of DSBs has been linked with cancer predisposition and aging. During the repair of DSBs by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), DNA ends are brought together, processed and then joined. In eukaryotes, this repair pathway is initiated by the binding of the ring-shaped Ku heterodimer and completed by DNA ligase IV. The DNA ligase IV complex, DNA ligase IV/XRRC4 in humans and Dnl4/Lif1 in yeast, is recruited to DNA ends in vitro and in vivo by an interaction with Ku and, in yeast, Dnl4/Lif1 stabilizes the binding of yKu to in vivo DSBs. Here we have analyzed the interactions of these functionally conserved eukaryotic NHEJ factors with DNA by electron microscopy. As expected, the ring-shaped Ku complex bound stably and specifically to DNA ends at physiological salt concentrations. At a ratio of 1 Ku molecule per DNA end, the majority of DNA ends were occupied by a single Ku complex with no significant formation of linear DNA multimers or circular loops. Both Dnl4/Lif1 and DNA ligase IV/XRCC4 formed complexes with Ku-bound DNA ends, resulting in intra- and intermolecular DNA end bridging even with non-ligatable DNA ends. Together these studies, which provide the first visualization of the conserved complex formed by Ku and DNA ligase IV at juxtaposed DNA ends by electron microscopy, suggest that the DNA ligase IV complex mediates end-bridging by engaging two Ku-bound DNA ends.
non-homologous end joining; DNA ligase; Ku; end-bridging
DNA repair activities at DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are under control of regulatory ubiquitylation events governed by the RNF8 and RNF168 ubiquitin-ligases. Defects in this regulatory mechanism, as with mutation of other key DNA damage-response factors, lead to genomic instability and cancer, presumably due to impaired repair of DNA lesions. Recent work revealed that RNF8 and RNF168 also play critical roles at natural chromosome ends, when no longer adequately shielded by telomeres. In contrast to repair of DSBs being needed to maintain genome integrity, repair activities at telomeres create chromosome end-to-end fusions that threaten genome integrity. Upon cell division these telomere fusions give rise to genomic alterations and instability via chromosomal missegregration and initiation of breakage-fusion-bridge cycles. Here, I discuss the role of RNF8 at natural chromosome ends and its (potential) consequences.
DNA damage; RNF8; genomic instability; telomeres; ubiquitin
Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins are essential regulators of development that maintain gene silencing in Drosophila and mammals through alterations of chromatin structure. One key PcG protein, Posterior Sex Combs (PSC), is part of at least two complexes: Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) and dRING Associated Factors (dRAF). PRC1-class complexes compact chromatin and inhibit chromatin remodeling, while dRAF has E3 ligase activity for ubiquitylation of histone H2A; activities of both complexes can inhibit transcription. The noncovalent effects of PRC1-class complexes on chromatin can be recapitulated by PSC alone, and the region of PSC required for these activities is essential for PSC function in vivo. To understand how PSC interacts with chromatin to exert its repressive effects, we compared the ability of PSC to bind to and inhibit remodeling of various nucleosomal templates, and determined which regions of PSC are required for mononucleosome binding and inhibition of chromatin remodeling. We find that PSC binds mononucleosome templates but inhibits their remodeling poorly. Addition of linker DNA to mononucleosomes allows their remodeling to be inhibited, although higher concentrations of PSC are required than for inhibition of multi-nucleosome templates. The C-terminal region of PSC (aa 456-1603) is important for inhibition of chromatin remodeling, and we identified aa 456-909 as sufficient for stable nucleosome binding but not for inhibition of chromatin remodeling. Our data suggest distinct mechanistic steps between nucleosome binding and inhibition of chromatin remodeling.
chromatin; Polycomb Group; nucleosome; chromatin remodeling
Cullin 4 (Cul4), a member of the evolutionally conserved cullin protein family, serves as a scaffold to assemble multisubunit ubiquitin E3 ligase complexes. Cul4 interacts with the Ring finger-containing protein ROC1 through its C-terminal cullin domain and with substrate recruiting subunit(s) through its N-terminus. Previous studies have demonstrated that Cul4 E3 ligase ubiquitylates key regulators in cell cycle control and mediates their degradation through the proteasomal pathway, thus contributing to genome stability. Recent studies from several groups have revealed that Cul4 E3 ligase can target histones for ubiquitylation, and importantly, ubiquitylation of histones may facilitate the cellular response to DNA damage. Therefore, histone ubiquitylation by Cul4 E3 ligase constitutes a novel mechanism through which Cul4 regulates chromatin function and maintains genomic integrity. We outline these studies and suggest that histone ubiquitylation might play important roles in Cul4-regualted chromatin function including the cellular response to DNA damage and heterochromatin gene silencing.
The cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is mobilized by the protein kinase ATM, which phosphorylates key players in the DNA damage response (DDR) network. A major question is how ATM controls DSB repair. Optimal repair requires chromatin relaxation at damaged sites. Chromatin reorganization is coupled to dynamic alterations in histone posttranslational modifications. Here, we show that in human cells, DSBs induce monoubiquitylation of histone H2B, a modification that is associated in undamaged cells with transcription elongation. We find that this process relies on recruitment to DSB sites and ATM-dependent phosphorylation of the responsible E3 ubiquitin ligase: the RNF20-RNF40 heterodimer. H2B monoubiquitylation is required for timely recruitment of players in the two major DSB repair pathways—nonhomologous end-joining and homologous recombination repair—and optimal repair via both pathways. Our data and previous data suggest a two-stage model for chromatin decondensation that facilitates DSB repair.
Polycomb group (PcG) genes are chromatin modifiers that mediate epigenetic silencing of target genes. PcG-mediated epigenetic silencing is implicated in embryonic development, stem cell plasticity, cell fate maintenance, cellular differentiation and cancer. However, analysis of the roles of PcG proteins in maintaining differentiation programs during vertebrate embryogenesis has been hampered due to the early embryonic lethality of several PcG knock-outs in the mouse. Here, we show that zebrafish Ring1b/Rnf2, the single E3 ubiquitin ligase in the Polycomb Repressive Complex 1, critically regulates the developmental program of craniofacial cell lineages. Zebrafish ring1b mutants display a severe craniofacial phenotype, which includes an almost complete absence of all cranial cartilage, bone and musculature. We show that Cranial Neural Crest (CNC)-derived cartilage precursors migrate correctly into the pharyngeal arches, but fail to differentiate into chondrocytes. This phenotype is specific for cartilage precursors, since other neural crest-derived cell lineages, including glia, neurons and chromatophores, are formed normally in ring1b mutants. Our results therefore reveal a critical and specific role for Ring1b in promoting the differentiation of cranial neural crest cells into chondrocytes. The molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of craniofacial abnormalities, which are among the most common genetic birth defects in humans, remain poorly understood. The zebrafish ring1b mutant provides a molecular model for investigating these mechanisms and may lead to the discovery of new treatments or preventions of craniofacial abnormalities.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) caused by ionizing radiation or by the stalling of DNA replication forks are among the most deleterious forms of DNA damage. The ability of cells to recognize and repair DSBs requires post-translational modifications to histones and other proteins that facilitate access to lesions in compacted chromatin, however our understanding of these processes remains incomplete. UHRF1 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that has previously been linked to events that regulate chromatin remodeling and epigenetic maintenance. Previous studies have demonstrated that loss of UHRF1 increases the sensitivity of cells to DNA damage however the role of UHRF1 in this response is unclear.
We demonstrate that UHRF1 plays a critical role for facilitating the response to DSB damage caused by γ-irradiation. UHRF1-depleted cells exhibit increased sensitivity to γ-irradiation, suggesting a compromised cellular response to DSBs. UHRF1-depleted cells show impaired cell cycle arrest and an impaired accumulation of histone H2AX phosphorylation (γH2AX) in response to γ-irradiation compared to control cells. We also demonstrate that UHRF1 is required for genome integrity, in that UHRF1-depleted cells displayed an increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations compared to control cells.
Our findings indicate a critical role for UHRF1 in maintenance of chromosome integrity and an optimal response to DSB damage.
In mammalian cells the accumulation of repair proteins to double-strand breaks is a phosphorylation and ubiquitylation regulated process. Some of the genes that encode the kinases, and ubiquitin ligases in this pathway are cancer predisposition genes, most prominently the breast cancer predisposition gene, BRCA1 which encodes a ubiquitin ligase. How BRCA1 ligase activity was regulated following DNA damage was poorly understood. In this review I summarise new data that shows a third post-translational modification, by the Small ubiquitin like modifier SUMO, is part of the same cascade, enabling and activating DNA damage-regulated processes, including the BRCA1 ligase activity.