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1.  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.
2.  Stripped-down DNA repair in a highly reduced parasite 
Encephalitozoon cuniculi is a member of a distinctive group of single-celled parasitic eukaryotes called microsporidia, which are closely related to fungi. Some of these organisms, including E. cuniculi, also have uniquely small genomes that are within the prokaryotic range. Thus, E. cuniculi has undergone a massive genome reduction which has resulted in a loss of genes from diverse biological pathways, including those that act in DNA repair.
DNA repair is essential to any living cell. A loss of these mechanisms invariably results in accumulation of mutations and/or cell death. Six major pathways of DNA repair in eukaryotes include: non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), homologous recombination repair (HRR), mismatch repair (MMR), nucleotide excision repair (NER), base excision repair (BER) and methyltransferase repair. DNA polymerases are also critical players in DNA repair processes.
Given the close relationship between microsporidia and fungi, the repair mechanisms present in E. cuniculi were compared to those of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to ascertain how the process of genome reduction has affected the DNA repair pathways.
E. cuniculi lacks 16 (plus another 6 potential absences) of the 56 DNA repair genes sought via BLASTP and PSI-BLAST searches. Six of 14 DNA polymerases or polymerase subunits are also absent in E. cuniculi. All of these genes are relatively well conserved within eukaryotes. The absence of genes is not distributed equally among the different repair pathways; some pathways lack only one protein, while there is a striking absence of many proteins that are components of both double strand break repair pathways. All specialized repair polymerases are also absent.
Given the large number of DNA repair genes that are absent from the double strand break repair pathways, E. cuniculi is a prime candidate for the study of double strand break repair with minimal machinery. Strikingly, all of the double strand break repair genes that have been retained by E. cuniculi participate in other biological pathways.
PMCID: PMC1851970  PMID: 17374165
3.  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
4.  Two- and Three-Dimensional Live Cell Imaging of the DNA Damage Response 
Short Abstract
This protocol describes a method for visualizing a DNA double-strand break signaling protein activated in response to DNA damage as well as its localization during mitosis.
Long Abstract
Double-strand breaks (DSBs) are the most deleterious DNA lesions a cell can encounter. If left unrepaired, DSBs harbor great potential to generate mutations and chromosomal aberrations (Jackson & Bartek, 2009). To prevent this trauma from catalyzing genomic instability, it is crucial for cells to detect DSBs, activate the DNA damage response (DDR), and repair the DNA. Once switched on, the DDR works to preserve genomic integrity by triggering cell cycle arrest to allow for repair to take place or force the cell to undergo apoptosis or cell death. The predominant mechanisms of DSB repair occur through nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination repair (HRR) (reviewed in (Valerie & Povirk, 2003)). There are many proteins whose activities must be precisely orchestrated for the DDR to function properly. Herein, we describe a method for 2- and 3-dimensional (D) visualization of one of these proteins, 53BP1.
The p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1) localizes to areas of DSBs by binding to modified histones (Botuyan et al, 2006; Huyen et al, 2004), forming foci within 5–15 minutes (Schultz et al, 2000). The histone modifications and recruitment of 53BP1 and other DDR proteins to DSB sites are believed to facilitate the structural rearrangement of chromatin around areas of damage and contribute to DNA repair (Giunta et al, 2010). Beyond direct participation in repair, additional roles have been described for 53BP1 in the DDR. It has been implicated in regulating an intra-S checkpoint, a G2/M checkpoint, and activation of downstream DDR proteins (Nakamura et al, 2006; Wang et al, 2002; Ward et al, 2003). Recently, it was discovered that 53BP1 does not form foci in response to DNA damage induced during mitosis, instead waiting for cells to enter G1 before localizing to the vicinity of DSBs (Giunta et al, 2010). DDR proteins such as 53BP1 have been found to associate with mitotic structures (such as kinetochores) during the progression through mitosis (Giunta & Jackson, 2011).
In this protocol we describe the use of 2- and 3-D live cell imaging to visualize the formation of 53BP1 foci in response to the DNA damaging agent camptothecin (CPT), as well as 53BP1’s behavior during mitosis. Camptothecin is a topoisomerase I inhibitor that primarily causes DSBs during DNA replication. To accomplish this, we used a previously described 53BP1-mCherry fluorescent fusion protein construct consisting of a 53BP1 protein domain able to bind DSBs (Dimitrova et al, 2008). In addition, we used a histone H2B-GFP fluorescent fusion protein construct able to monitor chromatin dynamics throughout the cell cycle but in particular during mitosis (Kanda et al, 1998). Live cell imaging in multiple dimensions is an excellent tool to deepen our understanding of the function of DDR proteins in eukaryotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3490244  PMID: 23052275
5.  Impact of DNA repair pathways on the cytotoxicity of piperlongumine in chicken DT40 cell-lines 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(7-8):285-292.
Piperlongumine is a naturally-occurring small molecule with various biological activities. Recent studies demonstrate that piperlongumine selectively kills various types of transformed cells with minimal toxicity to non-transformed cells by inducing a high level of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS generates various types of DNA lesions, including base modifications and single strand breaks. In order to examine the contribution of ROS-induced DNA damage to the cytotoxicity by piperlongumine, various DNA repair-deficient chicken DT40 cell-lines with a single DNA repair gene deletion were tested for cellular sensitivity to piperlongumine. The results showed that cell lines defective in homologous recombination (HR) display hyper-sensitivity to piperlongumine, while other cell lines with a deficiency in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER), Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway, or translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) polymerases, show no sensitivity to piperlongumine. The results strongly implicate that double strand breaks (DSBs) generated by piperlongumine are major cytotoxic DNA lesions. Furthermore, a deletion of 53BP1 or Ku70 in the BRCA1-deficient cell line restored cellular resistance to piperlongumine. This strongly supports the idea that piperlongumine induces DSB- mediated cell death. Interestingly, piperlongumine makes the wild type DT40 cell line hypersensitive to a PARP-inhibitor, Olaparib. The results implicate that piperlongumine inhibits HR. Further analysis with cell-based HR assay and the kinetic study of Rad51 foci formation confirmed that piperlongumine suppresses HR activity. Altogether, we revealed novel mechanisms of piperlongumine-induced cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4162141  PMID: 25221646
BRCA1; BRCA2; piperlongumine; oxidative stress; homologous recombination; chemotherapy
6.  Ku80-Deleted Cells are Defective at Base Excision Repair 
Mutation research  2013;0:16-25.
Ku80 forms a heterodimer with Ku70, called Ku, that repairs DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) via the nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway. As a consequence of deleting NHEJ, Ku80-mutant cells are hypersensitive to agents that cause DNA DSBs like ionizing radiation. Here we show that Ku80 deletion also decreased resistance to ROS and alkylating agents that typically cause base lesions and single-strand breaks (SSBs). This is unusual since base excision repair (BER), not NHEJ, typically repairs these types of lesions. However, we show that deletion of another NHEJ protein, DNA ligase IV (Lig 4), did not cause hypersensitivity to these agents. In addition, the ROS and alkylating agents did not induce γ-H2AX foci that are diagnostic of DSBs. Furthermore, deletion of Ku80, but not Lig 4 or Ku70, reduced BER capacity. Ku80 deletion also impaired BER at the initial lesion recognition/strand scission step; thus, involvement of a DSB is unlikely. Therefore, our data suggests that Ku80 deletion impairs BER via a mechanism that does not repair DSBs.
PMCID: PMC3721509  PMID: 23567907
nonhomologous end joining; base excision repair; double strand breaks; single strand breaks; base lesions
7.  Genome-Wide Analysis of Factors Affecting Transcription Elongation and DNA Repair: A New Role for PAF and Ccr4-Not in Transcription-Coupled Repair 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(2):e1000364.
RNA polymerases frequently deal with a number of obstacles during transcription elongation that need to be removed for transcription resumption. One important type of hindrance consists of DNA lesions, which are removed by transcription-coupled repair (TC-NER), a specific sub-pathway of nucleotide excision repair. To improve our knowledge of transcription elongation and its coupling to TC-NER, we used the yeast library of non-essential knock-out mutations to screen for genes conferring resistance to the transcription-elongation inhibitor mycophenolic acid and the DNA-damaging agent 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide. Our data provide evidence that subunits of the SAGA and Ccr4-Not complexes, Mediator, Bre1, Bur2, and Fun12 affect transcription elongation to different extents. Given the dependency of TC-NER on RNA Polymerase II transcription and the fact that the few proteins known to be involved in TC-NER are related to transcription, we performed an in-depth TC-NER analysis of a selection of mutants. We found that mutants of the PAF and Ccr4-Not complexes are impaired in TC-NER. This study provides evidence that PAF and Ccr4-Not are required for efficient TC-NER in yeast, unraveling a novel function for these transcription complexes and opening new perspectives for the understanding of TC-NER and its functional interconnection with transcription elongation.
Author Summary
Dealing with DNA lesions is one of the most important tasks of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. This is particularly relevant for damage occurring inside genes, in the DNA strands that are actively transcribed, because transcription cannot proceed through a damaged site and the persisting lesion can cause either genome instability or cell death. Cells have evolved specific mechanisms to repair these DNA lesions, the malfunction of which leads to severe genetic syndromes in humans. Despite many years of intensive research, the mechanisms underlying transcription-coupled repair is still poorly understood. To gain insight into this phenomenon, we undertook a genome-wide screening in the model eukaryotic organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae for genes that affect this type of repair that is coupled to transcription. Our study has permitted us to identify and demonstrate new roles in DNA repair for factors with a previously known function in transcription, opening new perspectives for the understanding of DNA repair and its functional interconnection with transcription.
PMCID: PMC2629578  PMID: 19197357
8.  Oxidative DNA Damage and Nucleotide Excision Repair 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(18):2409-2419.
Significance: Oxidative DNA damage is repaired by multiple, overlapping DNA repair pathways. Accumulating evidence supports the hypothesis that nucleotide excision repair (NER), besides base excision repair (BER), is also involved in neutralizing oxidative DNA damage. Recent Advances: NER includes two distinct sub-pathways: transcription-coupled NER (TC-NER) and global genome repair (GG-NER). The CSA and CSB proteins initiate the onset of TC-NER. Recent findings show that not only CSB, but also CSA is involved in the repair of oxidative DNA lesions, in the nucleus as well as in mitochondria. The XPG protein is also of importance for the removal of oxidative DNA lesions, as it may enhance the initial step of BER. Substantial evidence exists that support a role for XPC in NER and BER. XPC deficiency not only results in decreased repair of oxidative lesions, but has also been linked to disturbed redox homeostasis. Critical Issues: The role of NER proteins in the regulation of the cellular response to oxidative (mitochondrial and nuclear) DNA damage may be the underlying mechanism of the pathology of accelerated aging in Cockayne syndrome patients, a driving force for internal cancer development in XP-A and XP-C patients, and a contributor to the mixed exhibited phenotypes of XP-G patients. Future Directions: Accumulating evidence indicates that DNA repair factors can be involved in multiple DNA repair pathways. However, the distinct detailed mechanism and consequences of these additional functions remain to be elucidated and can possibly shine a light on clinically related issues. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 2409–2419.
PMCID: PMC3671630  PMID: 23216312
9.  DNA damage tolerance: a double-edged sword guarding the genome 
Translational cancer research  2013;2(3):107-129.
Preservation of genome integrity is an essential process for cell homeostasis. During the course of life of a single cell, the genome is constantly damaged by endogenous and exogenous agents. To ensure genome stability, cells use a global signaling network, namely the DNA damage response (DDR) to sense and repair DNA damage. DDR senses different types of DNA damage and coordinates a response that includes activation of transcription, cell cycle control, DNA repair pathways, apoptosis, senescence, and cell death. Despite several repair mechanisms that repair different types of DNA lesions, it is likely that the replication machinery would still encounter lesions that are mis-repaired or not repaired. Replication of damaged genome would result in high frequency of fork collapse and genome instability. In this scenario, the cells employ the DNA damage tolerance (DDT) pathway that recruits a specialized low fidelity translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerase to bypass the lesions for repair at a later time point. Thus, DDT is not a repair pathway per se, but provides a mechanism to tolerate DNA lesions during replication thereby increasing survival and preventing genome instability. Paradoxically, DDT process is also associated with increased mutagenesis, which can in turn drive the cell to cancer development. Thus, DDT process functions as a double-edged sword guarding the genome. In this review, we will discuss the replication stress induced DNA damage-signaling cascade, the stabilization and rescue of stalled replication forks by the DDT pathway and the effect of the DDT pathway on cancer.
PMCID: PMC3779140  PMID: 24058901
DNA damage tolerance (DDT); proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA); replicative DNA polymerase; stalled replication forks; translesion synthesis (TLS); translesion polymerase
10.  Regulation of Nucleotide Excision Repair by UV-DDB: Prioritization of Damage Recognition to Internucleosomal DNA 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(10):e1001183.
This study reveals the molecular mechanism by which the nucleotide excision repair protein DDB2 prioritises excision of UV-induced DNA lesions in the nucleosome landscape.
How tightly packed chromatin is thoroughly inspected for DNA damage is one of the fundamental unanswered questions in biology. In particular, the effective excision of carcinogenic lesions caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of sunlight depends on UV-damaged DNA-binding protein (UV-DDB), but the mechanism by which this DDB1-DDB2 heterodimer stimulates DNA repair remained enigmatic. We hypothesized that a distinctive function of this unique sensor is to coordinate damage recognition in the nucleosome repeat landscape of chromatin. Therefore, the nucleosomes of human cells have been dissected by micrococcal nuclease, thus revealing, to our knowledge for the first time, that UV-DDB associates preferentially with lesions in hypersensitive, hence, highly accessible internucleosomal sites joining the core particles. Surprisingly, the accompanying CUL4A ubiquitin ligase activity is necessary to retain the xeroderma pigmentosum group C (XPC) partner at such internucleosomal repair hotspots that undergo very fast excision kinetics. This CUL4A complex thereby counteracts an unexpected affinity of XPC for core particles that are less permissive than hypersensitive sites to downstream repair subunits. That UV-DDB also adopts a ubiquitin-independent function is evidenced by domain mapping and in situ protein dynamics studies, revealing direct but transient interactions that promote a thermodynamically unfavorable β-hairpin insertion of XPC into substrate DNA. We conclude that the evolutionary advent of UV-DDB correlates with the need for a spatiotemporal organizer of XPC positioning in higher eukaryotic chromatin.
Author Summary
Like all molecules in living organisms, DNA undergoes spontaneous decay and is constantly under attack by endogenous and environmental agents. Unlike other molecules, however, DNA—the blueprint of heredity—cannot be re-created de novo; it can only be copied. The original blueprint must therefore remain pristine. All kinds of DNA damage pose a health hazard. DNA lesions induced by the ultraviolet (UV) component of sunlight, for example, can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. A repair process known as nucleotide excision repair (NER) is dedicated to correcting this UV damage. Although the enzymatic steps of this repair process are known in detail, we still do not understand how it copes with the native situation in the cell, where the DNA is tightly wrapped around protein spools called nucleosomes. Our study has revealed the molecular mechanism by which an enigmatic component of NER called UV-DDB stimulates excision of UV-induced lesions in the landscape of nucleosome-packaged DNA in human skin cells. In particular, we describe how this accessory protein prioritizes, in space and time, which UV lesions in packaged DNA to target for repair by NER complexes, thus optimizing the repair process.
PMCID: PMC3201922  PMID: 22039351
11.  Rules of Engagement for Base Excision Repair in Chromatin 
Journal of cellular physiology  2013;228(2):258-266.
Most of the DNA in eukaryotes is packaged in tandemly arrayed nucleosomes that, together with numerous DNA- and nucleosome-associated enzymes and regulatory factors, make up chromatin. Chromatin modifying and remodeling agents help regulate access to selected DNA segments in chromatin, thereby facilitating transcription and DNA replication and repair. Studies of nucleotide excision repair (NER), single strand break repair (SSBR), and the homology-directed (HDR) and non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) double strand break repair pathways have led to an ‘access-repair-restore’ paradigm, in which chromatin in the vicinity of damaged DNA is disrupted, thereby enabling efficient repair and the subsequent repackaging of DNA into nucleosomes. When damage is extensive, these repair processes are accompanied by cell cycle checkpoint activation, which provides cells with sufficient time to either complete the repair or initiate apoptosis. It is not clear, however, if base excision repair (BER) of the ~20,000 or more oxidative DNA damages that occur daily in each nucleated human cell can be viewed through this same lens. Until recently, we did not know if BER requires or is accompanied by nucleosome disruption, and it is not yet clear that anything short of overwhelming oxidative damage (resulting in the shunting of DNA substrates into other repair pathways) results in checkpoint activation. This review highlights studies of how oxidatively damaged DNA in nucleosomes is discovered and repaired, and offers a working model of events associated with BER in chromatin that we hope will have heuristic value.
PMCID: PMC3468691  PMID: 22718094
12.  RAD51D- and FANCG-dependent base substitution mutagenesis at the ATP1A1 locus in mammalian cells 
Mutation research  2009;665(1-2):61-66.
Elaborate processes act at the DNA replication fork to minimize the generation of chromatid discontinuity when lesions are encountered. To prevent collapse of stalled replication forks, mutagenic translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases are recruited temporarily to bypass DNA lesions. When a replication-associated (one-ended) double strand break occurs, homologous recombination repair (HRR) can restore chromatid continuity in what has traditionally been regarded as an “error-free” process. Our previous mutagenesis studies show an important role for HRR in preventing deletions and rearrangements that would otherwise result from error-prone nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) after fork breakage. An analogous, but distinct, role in minimizing mutations is attributed to the proteins defective in the cancer predisposition disease Fanconi anemia (FA). Cells from FA patients and model systems show an increased proportion of gene-disrupting deletions at the hprt locus as well as decreased mutation rates in the hprt assay, suggesting a role for the FANC proteins in promoting TLS, HRR, and possibly also NHEJ. It remains unclear whether HRR, like the FANC pathway, impacts the rate of base substitution mutagenesis. Therefore, we measured, in isogenic rad51d and fancg CHO mutants, mutation rates at the Na+/K+–ATPase α-subunit (ATP1A1) locus using ouabain resistance, which specifically detects base substitution mutations. Surprisingly, we found that the spontaneous mutation rate was reduced ~2.5-fold in rad51d knockout cells, an even greater extent than observed in fancg cells, when compared with parental and isogenic gene-complemented control lines. A ~2-fold reduction in induced mutations in rad51d cells was seen after treatment with the DNA alkylating agent ethylnitrosurea while a lesser reduction occurred in fancg cells. Should the model ATP1A1 locus be representative of the genome, we conclude that at least 50% of base substitution mutations in this mammalian system arise through error-prone polymerase(s) acting during HRR-mediated restart of broken replication forks.
PMCID: PMC2692916  PMID: 19427512
Fanconi anemia; homologous recombination; translesion synthesis; CHO cells; ouabain resistance
13.  Deletion of Individual Ku Subunits in Mice Causes an NHEJ-Independent Phenotype Potentially by Altering Apurinic/Apyrimidinic Site Repair 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86358.
Ku70 and Ku80 form a heterodimer called Ku that forms a holoenzyme with DNA dependent-protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKCS) to repair DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) through the nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway. As expected mutating these genes in mice caused a similar DSB repair-defective phenotype. However, ku70-/- cells and ku80-/- cells also appeared to have a defect in base excision repair (BER). BER corrects base lesions, apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) sites and single stand breaks (SSBs) utilizing a variety of proteins including glycosylases, AP endonuclease 1 (APE1) and DNA Polymerase β (Pol β). In addition, deleting Ku70 was not equivalent to deleting Ku80 in cells and mice. Therefore, we hypothesized that free Ku70 (not bound to Ku80) and/or free Ku80 (not bound to Ku70) possessed activity that influenced BER. To further test this hypothesis we performed two general sets of experiments. The first set showed that deleting either Ku70 or Ku80 caused an NHEJ-independent defect. We found ku80-/- mice had a shorter life span than dna-pkcs-/- mice demonstrating a phenotype that was greater than deleting the holoenzyme. We also found Ku70-deletion induced a p53 response that reduced the level of small mutations in the brain suggesting defective BER. We further confirmed that Ku80-deletion impaired BER via a mechanism that was not epistatic to Pol β. The second set of experiments showed that free Ku70 and free Ku80 could influence BER. We observed that deletion of either Ku70 or Ku80, but not both, increased sensitivity of cells to CRT0044876 (CRT), an agent that interferes with APE1. In addition, free Ku70 and free Ku80 bound to AP sites and in the case of Ku70 inhibited APE1 activity. These observations support a novel role for free Ku70 and free Ku80 in altering BER.
PMCID: PMC3900520  PMID: 24466051
14.  Dynamic Dependence on ATR and ATM for Double-Strand Break Repair in Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Neural Descendants 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10001.
The DNA double-strand break (DSB) is the most toxic form of DNA damage. Studies aimed at characterizing DNA repair during development suggest that homologous recombination repair (HRR) is more critical in pluripotent cells compared to differentiated somatic cells in which nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) is dominant. We have characterized the DNA damage response (DDR) and quality of DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), and in vitro-derived neural cells. Resolution of ionizing radiation-induced foci (IRIF) was used as a surrogate for DSB repair. The resolution of γ-H2AX foci occurred at a slower rate in hESCs compared to neural progenitors (NPs) and astrocytes perhaps reflective of more complex DSB repair in hESCs. In addition, the resolution of RAD51 foci, indicative of active homologous recombination repair (HRR), showed that hESCs as well as NPs have high capacity for HRR, whereas astrocytes do not. Importantly, the ATM kinase was shown to be critical for foci formation in astrocytes, but not in hESCs, suggesting that the DDR is different in these cells. Blocking the ATM kinase in astrocytes not only prevented the formation but also completely disassembled preformed repair foci. The ability of hESCs to form IRIF was abrogated with caffeine and siRNAs targeted against ATR, implicating that hESCs rely on ATR, rather than ATM for regulating DSB repair. This relationship dynamically changed as cells differentiated. Interestingly, while the inhibition of the DNA-PKcs kinase (and presumably non-homologous endjoining [NHEJ]) in astrocytes slowed IRIF resolution it did not in hESCs, suggesting that repair in hESCs does not utilize DNA-PKcs. Altogether, our results show that hESCs have efficient DSB repair that is largely ATR-dependent HRR, whereas astrocytes critically depend on ATM for NHEJ, which, in part, is DNA-PKcs-independent.
PMCID: PMC2848855  PMID: 20368801
15.  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
16.  The Role of ATM in the Deficiency in Nonhomologous End-Joining near Telomeres in a Human Cancer Cell Line 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003386.
Telomeres distinguish chromosome ends from double-strand breaks (DSBs) and prevent chromosome fusion. However, telomeres can also interfere with DNA repair, as shown by a deficiency in nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) and an increase in large deletions at telomeric DSBs. The sensitivity of telomeric regions to DSBs is important in the cellular response to ionizing radiation and oncogene-induced replication stress, either by preventing cell division in normal cells, or by promoting chromosome instability in cancer cells. We have previously proposed that the telomeric protein TRF2 causes the sensitivity of telomeric regions to DSBs, either through its inhibition of ATM, or by promoting the processing of DSBs as though they are telomeres, which is independent of ATM. Our current study addresses the mechanism responsible for the deficiency in repair of DSBs near telomeres by combining assays for large deletions, NHEJ, small deletions, and gross chromosome rearrangements (GCRs) to compare the types of events resulting from DSBs at interstitial and telomeric DSBs. Our results confirm the sensitivity of telomeric regions to DSBs by demonstrating that the frequency of GCRs is greatly increased at DSBs near telomeres and that the role of ATM in DSB repair is very different at interstitial and telomeric DSBs. Unlike at interstitial DSBs, a deficiency in ATM decreases NHEJ and small deletions at telomeric DSBs, while it increases large deletions. These results strongly suggest that ATM is functional near telomeres and is involved in end protection at telomeric DSBs, but is not required for the extensive resection at telomeric DSBs. The results support our model in which the deficiency in DSB repair near telomeres is a result of ATM-independent processing of DSBs as though they are telomeres, leading to extensive resection, telomere loss, and GCRs involving alternative NHEJ.
Author Summary
The ends of chromosomes, called telomeres, prevent chromosome ends from appearing as DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and prevent chromosome fusion by forming a specialized nucleo-protein complex. The critical function of telomeres in end protection has a downside, in that it interferes with the repair of DSBs that occur near telomeres. DSBs are critical DNA lesions, because if they are not repaired correctly they can result in gross chromosome rearrangements (GCRs). As a result, the deficiency in DSB repair near telomeres has now been implicated in ageing, by promoting cell senescence, and cancer, by promoting telomere dysfunction due to oncogene-induced replication stress. The studies presented here demonstrate that DSBs near telomeres commonly result in GCRs in a human tumor cell line. Moreover, our results demonstrate that the mechanism of repair of telomeric DSBs is very different from the mechanism of repair of DSBs at other locations, supporting our hypothesis that the deficiency in repair of DSBs near telomeres is a result of the abnormal processing of DSBs due to the presence of telomeric proteins. Understanding the mechanism responsible for the deficiency in DSB repair near telomeres will provide important insights into critical human disease pathways.
PMCID: PMC3610639  PMID: 23555296
17.  Relationships between chromatin remodeling and DNA damage repair induced by 8-methoxypsoralen and UVA in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2012;35(4 Suppl):1052-1059.
Eukaryotic cells have developed mechanisms to prevent genomic instability, such as DNA damage detection and repair, control of cell cycle progression and cell death induction. The bifunctional compound furocumarin 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP) is widely used in the treatment of various inflammatory skin diseases. In this review, we summarize recent data about the role of chromatin remodeling in the repair of DNA damage induced by treatment with 8-methoxypsoralen plus UVA (8-MOP+UVA), focusing on repair proteins in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an established model system for studying DNA repair pathways. The interstrand crosslinks (ICL) formed by the 8-MOP+UVA treatment are detrimental lesions that can block transcription and replication, leading to cell death if not repaired. Current data show the involvement of different pathways in ICL processing, such as nucleotide excision repair (NER), base excision repair (BER), translesion repair (TLS) and double-strand break repair. 8-MOP+UVA treatment in yeast enhances the expression of genes involved in the DNA damage response, double strand break repair by homologous replication, as well as genes related to cell cycle regulation. Moreover, alterations in the expression of subtelomeric genes and genes related to chromatin remodeling are consistent with structural modifications of chromatin relevant to DNA repair. Taken together, these findings indicate a specific profile in 8-MOP+UVA responses related to chromatin remodeling and DNA repair.
PMCID: PMC3571434  PMID: 23412648
DNA repair; psoralen; chromatin remodeling; histones; DNA interstrand cross-links
18.  Mechanisms Employed by Escherichia coli to Prevent Ribonucleotide Incorporation into Genomic DNA by Pol V 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003030.
Escherichia coli pol V (UmuD′2C), the main translesion DNA polymerase, ensures continued nascent strand extension when the cellular replicase is blocked by unrepaired DNA lesions. Pol V is characterized by low sugar selectivity, which can be further reduced by a Y11A “steric-gate” substitution in UmuC that enables pol V to preferentially incorporate rNTPs over dNTPs in vitro. Despite efficient error-prone translesion synthesis catalyzed by UmuC_Y11A in vitro, strains expressing umuC_Y11A exhibit low UV mutability and UV resistance. Here, we show that these phenotypes result from the concomitant dual actions of Ribonuclease HII (RNase HII) initiating removal of rNMPs from the nascent DNA strand and nucleotide excision repair (NER) removing UV lesions from the parental strand. In the absence of either repair pathway, UV resistance and mutagenesis conferred by umuC_Y11A is significantly enhanced, suggesting that the combined actions of RNase HII and NER lead to double-strand breaks that result in reduced cell viability. We present evidence that the Y11A-specific UV phenotype is tempered by pol IV in vivo. At physiological ratios of the two polymerases, pol IV inhibits pol V–catalyzed translesion synthesis (TLS) past UV lesions and significantly reduces the number of Y11A-incorporated rNTPs by limiting the length of the pol V–dependent TLS tract generated during lesion bypass in vitro. In a recA730 lexA(Def) ΔumuDC ΔdinB strain, plasmid-encoded wild-type pol V promotes high levels of spontaneous mutagenesis. However, umuC_Y11A-dependent spontaneous mutagenesis is only ∼7% of that observed with wild-type pol V, but increases to ∼39% of wild-type levels in an isogenic ΔrnhB strain and ∼72% of wild-type levels in a ΔrnhA ΔrnhB double mutant. Our observations suggest that errant ribonucleotides incorporated by pol V can be tolerated in the E. coli genome, but at the cost of higher levels of cellular mutagenesis.
Author Summary
E. coli pol V, a complex formed by umuC and umuD gene products, is a “founding” member of the Y-family of DNA polymerases that have been identified in all domains of life. The primary cellular function of Y-family polymerases is the replication of damaged DNA. We discovered that pol V is characterized by unusually poor sugar selectivity and readily incorporates ribonucleotides into DNA. The extent of ribonucleotide incorporation can be modulated by substituting amino acids at, or adjacent to, the “steric gate” in the active site of the DNA polymerase. Principally, by taking a genetic approach, supported by in vitro biochemical data, we show that SOS mutations triggered by pol V–catalyzed errant ribonucleotide incorporation are kept in check by the action of nucleotide excision repair operating in conjunction with RNase HII and, unexpectedly, by another error-prone Y-family polymerase, pol IV. Our studies provide new insight into a growing field investigating the processing of ribonucleotides that are misincorporated by DNA polymerases and how these basic mechanisms contribute to cell survival and mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3493448  PMID: 23144626
19.  Proofreading Activity of DNA Polymerase Pol2 Mediates 3′-End Processing during Nonhomologous End Joining in Yeast 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(4):e1000060.
Genotoxic agents that cause double-strand breaks (DSBs) often generate damage at the break termini. Processing enzymes, including nucleases and polymerases, must remove damaged bases and/or add new bases before completion of repair. Artemis is a nuclease involved in mammalian nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), but in Saccharomyces cerevisiae the nucleases and polymerases involved in NHEJ pathways are poorly understood. Only Pol4 has been shown to fill the gap that may form by imprecise pairing of overhanging 3′ DNA ends. We previously developed a chromosomal DSB assay in yeast to study factors involved in NHEJ. Here, we use this system to examine DNA polymerases required for NHEJ in yeast. We demonstrate that Pol2 is another major DNA polymerase involved in imprecise end joining. Pol1 modulates both imprecise end joining and more complex chromosomal rearrangements, and Pol3 is primarily involved in NHEJ-mediated chromosomal rearrangements. While Pol4 is the major polymerase to fill the gap that may form by imprecise pairing of overhanging 3′ DNA ends, Pol2 is important for the recession of 3′ flaps that can form during imprecise pairing. Indeed, a mutation in the 3′-5′ exonuclease domain of Pol2 dramatically reduces the frequency of end joins formed with initial 3′ flaps. Thus, Pol2 performs a key 3′ end-processing step in NHEJ.
Author Summary
Chromosomal DSBs caused by replication fork disruption, environmental factors, or endogenous nucleases are common yet potentially dangerous DNA lesions in all organisms. If they are repaired by homologous recombination (HR), the integrity of the genome is usually maintained. However, if the broken ends undergo NHEJ, sequences at the junction may be added, deleted, or substituted, and large segments of chromosomes can be rearranged. Partially overlapping sets of proteins are required for repair by either the HR or NHEJ pathway. Furthermore, different proteins may be used to process broken DNA ends, depending on the particular terminal structures. Since DNA synthesis occurs during HR in yeast and all three essential replicative polymerases are utilized, we asked how different polymerases might be involved in DSB repair by NHEJ. We find that Pol2, and particularly the enzyme's 3′ to 5′ nuclease activity, contributes to the removal of 3′ single strand flaps that can form during the initial joining of broken ends. We find that Pol1 and Pol3 modulate complex chromosomal rearrangements, and we confirm that Pol4 fills the gap that can form by imprecise pairing of overhanging 3′ DNA ends. Our work demonstrates that multiple DNA polymerases play important roles in NHEJ.
PMCID: PMC2312331  PMID: 18437220
20.  Highly Precise and Developmentally Programmed Genome Assembly in Paramecium Requires Ligase IV–Dependent End Joining 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002049.
During the sexual cycle of the ciliate Paramecium, assembly of the somatic genome includes the precise excision of tens of thousands of short, non-coding germline sequences (Internal Eliminated Sequences or IESs), each one flanked by two TA dinucleotides. It has been reported previously that these genome rearrangements are initiated by the introduction of developmentally programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), which depend on the domesticated transposase PiggyMac. These DSBs all exhibit a characteristic geometry, with 4-base 5′ overhangs centered on the conserved TA, and may readily align and undergo ligation with minimal processing. However, the molecular steps and actors involved in the final and precise assembly of somatic genes have remained unknown. We demonstrate here that Ligase IV and Xrcc4p, core components of the non-homologous end-joining pathway (NHEJ), are required both for the repair of IES excision sites and for the circularization of excised IESs. The transcription of LIG4 and XRCC4 is induced early during the sexual cycle and a Lig4p-GFP fusion protein accumulates in the developing somatic nucleus by the time IES excision takes place. RNAi–mediated silencing of either gene results in the persistence of free broken DNA ends, apparently protected against extensive resection. At the nucleotide level, controlled removal of the 5′-terminal nucleotide occurs normally in LIG4-silenced cells, while nucleotide addition to the 3′ ends of the breaks is blocked, together with the final joining step, indicative of a coupling between NHEJ polymerase and ligase activities. Taken together, our data indicate that IES excision is a “cut-and-close” mechanism, which involves the introduction of initiating double-strand cleavages at both ends of each IES, followed by DSB repair via highly precise end joining. This work broadens our current view on how the cellular NHEJ pathway has cooperated with domesticated transposases for the emergence of new mechanisms involved in genome dynamics.
Author Summary
Double-strand breaks (DSBs) are among the most deleterious lesions that may occur on DNA. Some physiological processes, however, involve the introduction of DSBs and their subsequent repair. In the ciliate Paramecium, programmed DSBs initiate the extensive genome rearrangements that take place at each sexual cycle, during the development of the somatic nucleus. In particular, short intervening germline sequences (one every 1–2 kb along the genome) are spliced out from coding and non-coding regions. In this study, we present evidence that this process is a two-step mechanism and involves DNA cleavage at both ends of each excised sequence, followed by DSB repair. We demonstrate that cellular end-joining proteins, Ligase IV and its partner, Xrcc4p, are essential for the closure of broken excision sites, which has to be precise at the nucleotide level to allow the assembly of functional genes. This precision stands in sharp contrast to the notion that end joining is an error-prone DSB repair pathway. Therefore, Paramecium provides an excellent model for analysis of an intrinsically precise end joining pathway that has been recruited for genome-wide DSB repair.
PMCID: PMC3077386  PMID: 21533177
21.  Age-Related Neuronal Degeneration: Complementary Roles of Nucleotide Excision Repair and Transcription-Coupled Repair in Preventing Neuropathology 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(12):e1002405.
Neuronal degeneration is a hallmark of many DNA repair syndromes. Yet, how DNA damage causes neuronal degeneration and whether defects in different repair systems affect the brain differently is largely unknown. Here, we performed a systematic detailed analysis of neurodegenerative changes in mouse models deficient in nucleotide excision repair (NER) and transcription-coupled repair (TCR), two partially overlapping DNA repair systems that remove helix-distorting and transcription-blocking lesions, respectively, and that are associated with the UV-sensitive syndromes xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and Cockayne syndrome (CS). TCR–deficient Csa−/− and Csb−/− CS mice showed activated microglia cells surrounding oligodendrocytes in regions with myelinated axons throughout the nervous system. This white matter microglia activation was not observed in NER–deficient Xpa−/− and Xpc−/− XP mice, but also occurred in XpdXPCS mice carrying a point mutation (G602D) in the Xpd gene that is associated with a combined XPCS disorder and causes a partial NER and TCR defect. The white matter abnormalities in TCR–deficient mice are compatible with focal dysmyelination in CS patients. Both TCR–deficient and NER–deficient mice showed no evidence for neuronal degeneration apart from p53 activation in sporadic (Csa−/−, Csb−/−) or highly sporadic (Xpa−/−, Xpc−/−) neurons and astrocytes. To examine to what extent overlap occurs between both repair systems, we generated TCR–deficient mice with selective inactivation of NER in postnatal neurons. These mice develop dramatic age-related cumulative neuronal loss indicating DNA damage substrate overlap and synergism between TCR and NER pathways in neurons, and they uncover the occurrence of spontaneous DNA injury that may trigger neuronal degeneration. We propose that, while Csa−/− and Csb−/− TCR–deficient mice represent powerful animal models to study the mechanisms underlying myelin abnormalities in CS, neuron-specific inactivation of NER in TCR–deficient mice represents a valuable model for the role of NER in neuronal maintenance and survival.
Author Summary
Metabolism produces reactive oxygen species that damage our DNA and other cellular components, and as such it contributes to the aging process, including neuronal degeneration. Accordingly, genetic disorders associated with impaired DNA damage repair are frequently associated with premature onset of aging pathology in a variety of tissues, including the brain. This is well-illustrated by the progeroid DNA repair syndromes xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and Cockayne syndrome (CS), in which patients suffer from defects in nucleotide excision repair (NER) and transcription-coupled repair (TCR), two partially overlapping DNA repair systems that remove helix-distorting and transcription-blocking lesions, respectively. We have used a panel of XP and CS mice (including conditional double-mutant animals) to systematically investigate the impact of NER and TCR defects on neuronal degeneration. We have shown that, whereas a TCR defect causes white matter pathology, a NER defect can result in age related cumulative loss of neurons. These findings well match the neuropathology observed in CS and XP patients, underscoring the impact of spontaneous DNA damage in the onset of neuronal aging. Therefore, the XP and CS mouse models serve as valuable tools to delineate intervention strategies that combat age-associated pathology of the brain.
PMCID: PMC3234220  PMID: 22174697
22.  Yeast RAD26, a Homolog of the Human CSB Gene, Functions Independently of Nucleotide Excision Repair and Base Excision Repair in Promoting Transcription through Damaged Bases 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(12):4383-4389.
RAD26 in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the counterpart of the human Cockayne syndrome group B (CSB) gene. Both RAD26 and CSB act in the preferential repair of UV lesions on the transcribed strand, and in this process, they function together with the components of nucleotide excision repair (NER). Here, we examine the role of RAD26 in the repair of DNA lesions induced upon treatment with the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS). MMS-induced DNA lesions include base damages such as 3-methyl adenine and 7-methyl guanine, and these lesions are removed in yeast by the alternate competing pathways of base excision repair (BER), which is initiated by the action of MAG1-encoded N-methyl purine DNA glycosylase, and NER. Interestingly, a synergistic increase in MMS sensitivity was observed in the rad26Δ strain upon inactivation of NER or BER, indicating that RAD26 promotes the survival of MMS-treated cells by a mechanism that acts independently of either of these repair pathways. The galactose-inducible transcription of the GAL2, GAL7, and GAL10 genes is reduced in MMS-treated rad26Δ cells and also in mag1Δ rad14Δ cells, whereas a very severe reduction in transcription occurs in MMS-treated mag1Δ rad14Δ rad26Δ cells. From these observations, we infer that RAD26 plays a role in promoting transcription by RNA polymerase II through damaged bases. The implications of these observations are discussed in this paper.
PMCID: PMC133843  PMID: 12024048
23.  The sensitivity of human fibroblasts to N-acetoxy-2-acetylaminofluorene is determined by the extent of transcription-coupled repair, and/or their capability to counteract RNA synthesis inhibition. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(23):4653-4659.
Nucleotide excision repair (NER) mechanism is the major pathway responsible for the removal of a large variety of bulky lesions from the genome. Two different NER subpathways have been identified, i.e. the transcription-coupled and the global genome repair pathways. For DNA-damage induced by ultraviolet light both transcription-coupled repair and global genome repair are essential to confer resistance to cytotoxic effects. To gain further insight into the contribution of NER subpathways in the repair of bulky lesions and in their prevention of biological effects we measured the rate of repair of dG-C8-AF in active and inactive genes in normal human cells, XP-C cells (only transcription-coupled repair) and XP-A cells (completely NER-deficient) exposed to NA-AAF. XP-C cells are only slightly more sensitive to NA-AAF than normal cells and, like normal cells, they are able to recover RNA synthesis repressed by the treatment. In contrast, XP-A cells are sensitive to NA-AAF and unable to recover from RNA synthesis inhibition. Repair of dG-C8-AF in the active ADA gene proceeds in a biphasic way and without strand specificity, with a subclass of lesions quickly repaired during the first 8 h after treatment. Repair in the inactive 754 gene occurs more slowly than in the ADA gene. In XP-C cells, repair of dG-C8-AF in the ADA gene is confined to the transcribed strand and occurs at about half the rate of repair seen in normal cells. Repair in the inactive 754 gene in XP-C cells is virtually absent. Consistent with these results we found that repair replication in XP-C is drastically reduced when compared with normal cells and abolished by alpha-amanitin indicating that the repair in XP-C cells is mediated by transcription-coupled repair only. Our data suggest that dG-C8-AF is a target for transcription-coupled repair and that this repair pathway is the main pathway or recovery of RNA synthesis inhibition conferring resistance to cytotoxic effects of NA-AAF. In spite of this, repair of dG-C8-AF in active genes in normal cells by transcription-coupled repair and global genome repair is not additive, but dominated by global genome repair. This indicates that the subset of lesions which are capable of stalling RNA polymerase II, and are, therefore, a substrate for TCR, are also the lesions which are very efficiently recognized by the global genome repair system.
PMCID: PMC146299  PMID: 8972850
24.  Repair of Intermediate Structures Produced at DNA Interstrand Cross-Links in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(10):3425-3433.
Bifunctional alkylating agents and other drugs which produce DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) are among the most effective antitumor agents in clinical use. In contrast to agents which produce bulky adducts on only one strand of the DNA, the cellular mechanisms which act to eliminate DNA ICLs are still poorly understood, although nucleotide excision repair is known to play a crucial role in an early repair step. Using haploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains disrupted for genes central to the recombination, nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ), and mutagenesis pathways, all these activities were found to be involved in the repair of nitrogen mustard (mechlorethamine)- and cisplatin-induced DNA ICLs, but the particular pathway employed is cell cycle dependent. Examination of whole chromosomes from treated cells using contour-clamped homogenous electric field electrophoresis revealed the intermediate in the repair of ICLs in dividing cells, which are mostly in S phase, to be double-strand breaks (DSBs). The origin of these breaks is not clear since they were still efficiently induced in nucleotide excision and base excision repair-deficient, mismatch repair-defective, rad27 and mre11 disruptant strains. In replicating cells, RAD52-dependent recombination and NHEJ both act to repair the DSBs. In contrast, few DSBs were observed in quiescent cells, and recombination therefore seems dispensable for repair. The activity of the Rev3 protein (DNA polymerase ζ) is apparently more important for the processing of intermediates in stationary-phase cells, since rev3 disruptants were more sensitive in this phase than in the exponential growth phase.
PMCID: PMC85635  PMID: 10779332
25.  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

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