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1.  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
2.  Molecular Mechanisms of Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced DNA Damage and Repair 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2010;2010:592980.
DNA is one of the prime molecules, and its stability is of utmost importance for proper functioning and existence of all living systems. Genotoxic chemicals and radiations exert adverse effects on genome stability. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) (mainly UV-B: 280–315 nm) is one of the powerful agents that can alter the normal state of life by inducing a variety of mutagenic and cytotoxic DNA lesions such as cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), 6-4 photoproducts (6-4PPs), and their Dewar valence isomers as well as DNA strand breaks by interfering the genome integrity. To counteract these lesions, organisms have developed a number of highly conserved repair mechanisms such as photoreactivation, base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER), and mismatch repair (MMR). Additionally, double-strand break repair (by homologous recombination and nonhomologous end joining), SOS response, cell-cycle checkpoints, and programmed cell death (apoptosis) are also operative in various organisms with the expense of specific gene products. This review deals with UV-induced alterations in DNA and its maintenance by various repair mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3010660  PMID: 21209706
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Involvement of Nucleotide Excision and Mismatch Repair Mechanisms in Double Strand Break Repair 
Current Genomics  2009;10(4):250-258.
Living organisms are constantly threatened by environmental DNA-damaging agents, including UV and ionizing radiation (IR). Repair of various forms of DNA damage caused by IR is normally thought to follow lesion-specific repair pathways with distinct enzymatic machinery. DNA double strand break is one of the most serious kinds of damage induced by IR, which is repaired through double strand break (DSB) repair mechanisms, including homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). However, recent studies have presented increasing evidence that various DNA repair pathways are not separated, but well interlinked. It has been suggested that non-DSB repair mechanisms, such as Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER), Mismatch Repair (MMR) and cell cycle regulation, are highly involved in DSB repairs. These findings revealed previously unrecognized roles of various non-DSB repair genes and indicated that a successful DSB repair requires both DSB repair mechanisms and non-DSB repair systems. One of our recent studies found that suppressed expression of non-DSB repair genes, such as XPA, RPA and MLH1, influenced the yield of IR induced micronuclei formation and/or chromosome aberrations, suggesting that these genes are highly involved in DSB repair and DSB-related cell cycle arrest, which reveals new roles for these gene products in the DNA repair network. In this review, we summarize current progress on the function of non-DSB repair-related proteins, especially those that participate in NER and MMR pathways, and their influence on DSB repair. In addition, we present our developing view that the DSB repair mechanisms are more complex and are regulated by not only the well known HR/NHEJ pathways, but also a systematically coordinated cellular network.
PMCID: PMC2709936  PMID: 19949546
Ionizing radiation (IR); DNA damage; DSB repair; NER; MMR and cell cycle.
7.  Involvement of the nuclear proteasome activator PA28γ in the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(24):4300-4310.
The DNA damage response (DDR) is a complex signaling network that leads to damage repair while modulating numerous cellular processes. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), a highly cytotoxic DNA lesion, activate this system most vigorously. The DSB response network is orchestrated by the ATM protein kinase, which phosphorylates key players in its various branches. Proteasome-mediated protein degradation plays an important role in the proteome dynamics following DNA damage induction. Here, we identify the nuclear proteasome activator PA28γ (REGγ; PSME3) as a novel DDR player. PA28γ depletion leads to cellular radiomimetic sensitivity and a marked delay in DSB repair. Specifically, PA28γ deficiency abrogates the balance between the two major DSB repair pathways—nonhomologous end-joining and homologous recombination repair. Furthermore, PA28γ is found to be an ATM target, being recruited to the DNA damage sites and required for rapid accumulation of proteasomes at these sites. Our data reveal a novel ATM-PA28γ-proteasome axis of the DDR that is required for timely coordination of DSB repair.
PMCID: PMC3272261  PMID: 22134242
genomic stability; DNA repair; double-strand breaks; ATM; proteasome; PA28γ (PSME3)
8.  Dynamic flexibility of DNA repair pathways in growth arrested Escherichia coli 
DNA repair  2010;9(7):842-847.
The DNA of all organisms is constantly damaged by exogenous and endogenous agents. Base excision repair (BER) is important for the removal of several non-bulky lesions from the DNA, however not much is known about the contributions of other DNA repair pathways to the processing of non-bulky lesions. Here we utilized a luciferase reporter system to assess the contributions of transcription-coupled repair (TCR), BER and nucleotide excision repair (NER) to the repair of two non-bulky lesions, 8-oxoguanine (8OG) and uracil (U), in vivo under non-growth conditions. We demonstrate that both TCR and NER are utilized by Escherichia coli to repair 8OG and U. Additionally, the relative level of recognition of these lesions by BER and NER suggests that TCR can utilize components of either pathway for lesion removal, depending upon their availability. These findings indicate a dynamic flexibility of DNA repair pathways in the removal of non-bulky DNA lesions in prokaryotes, and reveal their respective contributions to the repair of 8OG and U in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2893249  PMID: 20462807
uracil; 8-oxoguanine; TCR; NER
9.  REPAIRtoire—a database of DNA repair pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D788-D792.
REPAIRtoire is the first comprehensive database resource for systems biology of DNA damage and repair. The database collects and organizes the following types of information: (i) DNA damage linked to environmental mutagenic and cytotoxic agents, (ii) pathways comprising individual processes and enzymatic reactions involved in the removal of damage, (iii) proteins participating in DNA repair and (iv) diseases correlated with mutations in genes encoding DNA repair proteins. REPAIRtoire provides also links to publications and external databases. REPAIRtoire contains information about eight main DNA damage checkpoint, repair and tolerance pathways: DNA damage signaling, direct reversal repair, base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, mismatch repair, homologous recombination repair, nonhomologous end-joining and translesion synthesis. The pathway/protein dataset is currently limited to three model organisms: Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Homo sapiens. The DNA repair and tolerance pathways are represented as graphs and in tabular form with descriptions of each repair step and corresponding proteins, and individual entries are cross-referenced to supporting literature and primary databases. REPAIRtoire can be queried by the name of pathway, protein, enzymatic complex, damage and disease. In addition, a tool for drawing custom DNA–protein complexes is available online. REPAIRtoire is freely available and can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC3013684  PMID: 21051355
10.  Differential epithelium DNA damage response to ATM and DNA-PK pathway inhibition in human prostate tissue culture 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(20):3545-3553.
The ability of cells to respond and repair DNA damage is fundamental for the maintenance of genomic integrity. Ex vivo culturing of surgery-derived human tissues has provided a significant advancement to assess DNA damage response (DDR) in the context of normal cytoarchitecture in a non-proliferating tissue. Here, we assess the dependency of prostate epithelium DDR on ATM and DNA-PKcs, the major kinases responsible for damage detection and repair by nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ), respectively. DNA damage was caused by ionizing radiation (IR) and cytotoxic drugs, cultured tissues were treated with ATM and DNA-PK inhibitors, and DDR was assessed by phosphorylation of ATM and its targets H2AX and KAP1, a heterochromatin binding protein. Phosphorylation of H2AX and KAP1 was fast, transient and fully dependent on ATM, but these responses were moderate in luminal cells. In contrast, DNA-PKcs was phosphorylated in both luminal and basal cells, suggesting that DNA-PK-dependent repair was also activated in the luminal cells despite the diminished H2AX and KAP1 responses. These results indicate that prostate epithelial cell types have constitutively dissimilar responses to DNA damage. We correlate the altered damage response to the differential chromatin state of the cells. These findings are relevant in understanding how the epithelium senses and responds to DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3356835  PMID: 22030624
DNA damage; prostate; γH2AX; ATM; DNA-PK
11.  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
12.  Phosphorylation: The Molecular Switch of Double-Strand Break Repair 
Repair of double-stranded breaks (DSBs) is vital to maintaining genomic stability. In mammalian cells, DSBs are resolved in one of the following complex repair pathways: nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ), homologous recombination (HR), or the inclusive DNA damage response (DDR). These repair pathways rely on factors that utilize reversible phosphorylation of proteins as molecular switches to regulate DNA repair. Many of these molecular switches overlap and play key roles in multiple pathways. For example, the NHEJ pathway and the DDR both utilize DNA-PK phosphorylation, whereas the HR pathway mediates repair with phosphorylation of RPA2, BRCA1, and BRCA2. Also, the DDR pathway utilizes the kinases ATM and ATR, as well as the phosphorylation of H2AX and MDC1. Together, these molecular switches regulate repair of DSBs by aiding in DSB recognition, pathway initiation, recruitment of repair factors, and the maintenance of repair mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3200257  PMID: 22084686
13.  The PARP inhibitor ABT-888 synergizes irinotecan treatment of colon cancer cell lines 
Investigational new drugs  2012;31(2):10.1007/s10637-012-9886-7.
Poly [ADP-ribose] polymerase-1 (PARP-1) localizes rapidly to sites of DNA damage and has been associated with various repair mechanisms including base excision repair (BER) and homologous recombination/non-homologous end joining (HRR/NHEJ). PARP-1 acts by adding poly-ADP ribose side chains to target proteins (PARylation) altering molecular interactions and functions. Recently small molecule inhibitors of PARP-1 have been shown to have significant clinical potential and third generation PARP inhibitors are currently being investigated in clinical trials. These drugs alone or in combination with radio/chemotherapy have resulted in meaningful patient responses and an increase in survival in metastatic breast cancer cases bearing BRCA-deficient or triple negative tumors and BRCA-deficient ovarian cancer patients. ABT-888, a potent PARP-1 inhibitor, sensitizes many cancer cells in-vitro and in-vivo to temozolomide. As such, we hypothesized that colon cancers would be sensitized to the DNA damaging chemotherapeutic agents, oxaliplatin and irinotecan, by ABT-888. Using colon cancer cell lines significant synergy was observed between ABT-888 and irinotecan at concentrations of ABT-888 as low as 0.125 μM. The level of synergy observed correlated with the degree of PARP1 inhibition as measured biochemically in cell lysates. ABT-888 at concentrations of 0.5–4 μM resulted in synergy with oxaliplatin. Furthermore, 24 h post treatment combinations of ABT-888/irinotecan generally resulted in increased G2/M cell cycle arrest and increased levels of DNA damage, followed by increased levels of apoptosis 48 h post treatment. In conclusion this study suggests that ABT-888 may be a clinically effective adjuvant to current colon cancer therapies that include the use of irinotecan and/or oxaliplatin.
PMCID: PMC3857790  PMID: 23054213 CAMSID: cams3703
PARP; PARP inhibitor; VE-821; Irinotecan; SN38; Colon cancer
14.  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
15.  The 8, 5’-Cyclopurine-2’-Deoxynucleosides: Candidate Neurodegenerative DNA Lesions in Xeroderma Pigmentosum, and Unique Probes of Transcription and Nucleotide Excision Repair 
DNA repair  2008;7(7):1168-1179.
It is a commonly held view that oxidatively-induced DNA lesions are repaired by the base excision repair (BER) pathway, whereas DNA lesions induced by UV light and other “bulky” chemical adducts are repaired by the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway. While this distinction is generally accurate, the 8,5’ cyclopurine deoxynucleosides represent an important exception, in that they are formed in DNA by the hydroxyl radical, but are specifically repaired by NER, not by BER. They are also strong blocks to nucleases and polymerases, including RNA polymerase II in human cells. In this review, I will discuss the evidence that these lesions are in part responsible for the neurodegeneration that occurs in some XP patients, and what additional evidence would be necessary to prove such a role. I will also consider other DNA lesions that might be involved in XP neurologic disease. Finally, I will also discuss how our recent studies of these lesions have generated novel insights into the process of transcriptional mutagenesis in human cells, as well as the value of studying these lesions not only for a better understanding of NER, but also for other aspects of human health and disease.
PMCID: PMC2797313  PMID: 18495558
16.  Integration of DNA Damage and Repair with Murine Double-Minute 2 (Mdm2) in Tumorigenesis 
The alteration of tumorigenic pathways leading to cancer is a degenerative disease process typically involving inactivation of tumor suppressor proteins and hyperactivation of oncogenes. One such oncogenic protein product is the murine double-minute 2, or Mdm2. While, Mdm2 has been primarily associated as the negative regulator of the p53 tumor suppressor protein there are many p53-independent roles demonstrated for this oncogene. DNA damage and chemotherapeutic agents are known to activate Mdm2 and DNA repair pathways. There are five primary DNA repair pathways involved in the maintenance of genomic integrity: Nucleotide excision repair (NER), Base excision repair (BER), Mismatch repair (MMR), Non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination (HR). In this review, we will briefly describe these pathways and also delineate the functional interaction of Mdm2 with multiple DNA repair proteins. We will illustrate the importance of these interactions with Mdm2 and discuss how this is important for tumor progression, cellular proliferation in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3546695  PMID: 23208375
base excision repair; cancer; homologous recombination; mismatch repair; murine double minute-2; non-homologous end joining; nucleotide excision repair
17.  MOF and Histone H4 Acetylation at Lysine 16 Are Critical for DNA Damage Response and Double-Strand Break Repair▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(14):3582-3595.
The human MOF gene encodes a protein that specifically acetylates histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16ac). Here we show that reduced levels of H4K16ac correlate with a defective DNA damage response (DDR) and double-strand break (DSB) repair to ionizing radiation (IR). The defect, however, is not due to altered expression of proteins involved in DDR. Abrogation of IR-induced DDR by MOF depletion is inhibited by blocking H4K16ac deacetylation. MOF was found to be associated with the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), a protein involved in nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair. ATM-dependent IR-induced phosphorylation of DNA-PKcs was also abrogated in MOF-depleted cells. Our data indicate that MOF depletion greatly decreased DNA double-strand break repair by both NHEJ and homologous recombination (HR). In addition, MOF activity was associated with general chromatin upon DNA damage and colocalized with the synaptonemal complex in male meiocytes. We propose that MOF, through H4K16ac (histone code), has a critical role at multiple stages in the cellular DNA damage response and DSB repair.
PMCID: PMC2897562  PMID: 20479123
18.  Changes in DNA repair during aging 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(22):7466-7474.
DNA is a precious molecule. It encodes vital information about cellular content and function. There are only two copies of each chromosome in the cell, and once the sequence is lost no replacement is possible. The irreplaceable nature of the DNA sets it apart from other cellular molecules, and makes it a critical target for age-related deterioration. To prevent DNA damage cells have evolved elaborate DNA repair machinery. Paradoxically, DNA repair can itself be subject to age-related changes and deterioration. In this review we will discuss the changes in efficiency of mismatch repair (MMR), base excision repair (BER), nucleotide excision repair (NER) and double-strand break (DSB) repair systems during aging, and potential changes in DSB repair pathway usage that occur with age. Mutations in DNA repair genes and premature aging phenotypes they cause have been reviewed extensively elsewhere, therefore the focus of this review is on the comparison of DNA repair mechanisms in young versus old.
PMCID: PMC2190694  PMID: 17913742
19.  Tissue-specific accelerated aging in nucleotide excision repair deficiency 
Mechanisms of ageing and development  2008;129(7-8):408-415.
Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is a multi-step DNA repair mechanism that removes helix-distorting modified nucleotides from the genome. NER is divided into two subpathways depending on the location of DNA damage in the genome and how it is first detected. Global genome NER identifies and repairs DNA lesions throughout the genome. This subpathway of NER primarily protects against the accumulation of mutations in the genome. Transcription-coupled (TC) NER rapidly repairs lesions in the transcribed strand of DNA that block transcription by RNA polymerase II. TC-NER prevents cell death in response to stalled transcription. Defects in NER cause three distinct human diseases: xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne syndrome and trichothiodystrophy. Each of these syndromes is characterized by premature onset of pathologies that overlap with those associated with old age in humans. This reveals the contribution of DNA damage to multiple age-related diseases. Tissues affected include the skin, eye, bone marrow, nervous system and endocrine axis. This review emphasizes accelerated aging associated with xeroderma pigmentosum and discusses the cause of these pathologies, either mutation accumulation or cell death as a consequence of failure to repair DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC2518655  PMID: 18538374
skin cancer; photoaging; neurodegeneration; bone marrow failure; progeria
20.  DNA Replication but Not Nucleotide Excision Repair Is Required for UVC-Induced Replication Protein A Phosphorylation in Mammalian Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(8):2696-2705.
Exposure of mammalian cells to short-wavelength light (UVC) triggers a global response which can either counteract the deleterious effect of DNA damage by enabling DNA repair or lead to apoptosis. Several stress-activated protein kinases participate in this response, making phosphorylation a strong candidate for being involved in regulating the cellular damage response. One factor that is phosphorylated in a UVC-dependent manner is the 32-kDa subunit of the single-stranded DNA-binding replication protein A (RPA32). RPA is required for major cellular processes like DNA replication, and removal of DNA damage by nucleotide excision repair (NER). In this study we examined the signal which triggers RPA32 hyperphosphorylation following UVC irradiation in human cells. Hyperphosphorylation of RPA was observed in cells from patients with either NER or transcription-coupled repair (TCR) deficiency (A, C, and G complementation groups of xeroderma pigmentosum and A and B groups of Cockayne syndrome, respectively). This exclude both NER intermediates and TCR as essential signals for RPA hyperphosphorylation. However, we have observed that UV-sensitive cells deficient in NER and TCR require lower doses of UV irradiation to induce RPA32 hyperphosphorylation than normal cells, indicating that persistent unrepaired lesions contribute to RPA phosphorylation. Finally, the results of UVC irradiation experiments on nonreplicating cells and S-phase-synchronized cells emphasize a major role for DNA replication arrest in the presence of UVC lesions in RPA UVC-induced hyperphosphorylation in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC85485  PMID: 10733572
21.  Rev1 and Polζ influence toxicity and mutagenicity of Me-lex, a sequence selective N3-adenine methylating agent. 
DNA repair  2008;7(3):431-438.
The relative toxicity and mutagenicity of Me-lex, which selectively generates 3-methyladenine (3-MeA), is dependent on the nature of the DNA repair background. Base Excision Repair (BER) defective S. cerevisiae strains mag1 and apn1apn2 were both significantly more sensitive to Me-lex toxicity, but only the latter is significantly more prone to Me-lex induced mutagenesis. To examine the contribution of translesion synthesis (TLS) DNA polymerases in the bypass of Me-lex-induced lesions, the REV3 and REV1 genes were independently deleted in the parental yeast strain and in different DNA repair deficient derivatives: the Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) deficient rad14, and the BER deficient mag1 or apn1apn2 strains. The strains contained an integrated ADE2 reporter gene under control of the transcription factor p53. A centromeric yeast expression vector containing the wild-type p53 cDNA was treated in vitro with increasing concentrations of Me-lex and transformed into the different yeast strains. The toxicity of Me-lex induced lesions was evaluated based on the plasmid transformation efficiency compared to the untreated vector, while Me-lex mutagenicity was assessed using the p53 reporter assay. In the present study, we demonstrate that disruption of Polζ (through deletion of its catalytic subunit coded by REV3) or Rev1 (by REV1 deletion) increased Me-lex lethality and decreased Me-lex mutagenicity in both the NER defective (rad14) and BER defective (mag1; apn1apn2) strains. Therefore, Polζ and Rev1 contribute to resistance of the lethal effects of Me-lex induced lesions (3-MeA and derived AP sites) by bypassing lesions and fixing some mutations.
PMCID: PMC2289995  PMID: 18182332
Me-lex; N3-methyladenine; translesion synthesis; p53; yeast
22.  Nucleotide Excision Repair in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Nucleotide excision repair (NER) plays an essential role in many organisms across life domains to preserve and faithfully transmit DNA to the next generation. In humans, NER is essential to prevent DNA damage-induced mutation accumulation and cell death leading to cancer and aging. NER is a versatile DNA repair pathway that repairs many types of DNA damage which distort the DNA helix, such as those induced by solar UV light. A detailed molecular model of the NER pathway has emerged from in vitro and live cell experiments, particularly using model systems such as bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cell cultures. In recent years, the versatility of the nematode C. elegans to study DNA damage response (DDR) mechanisms including NER has become increasingly clear. In particular, C. elegans seems to be a convenient tool to study NER during the UV response in vivo, to analyze this process in the context of a developing and multicellular organism, and to perform genetic screening. Here, we will discuss current knowledge gained from the use of C. elegans to study NER and the response to UV-induced DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3195855  PMID: 22091407
23.  Pterygium and genetic polymorphisms of the DNA repair enzymes XRCC1, XPA, and XPD 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:698-704.
Pterygium is an ultraviolet (UV) related disease. UV radiation can produce DNA damage, which is repaired by the DNA repair systems. Among the DNA repair systems, the base excision repair (BER) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) systems are the major ones involved in repairing UV-induced DNA damage; X-ray repair cross complementary 1 (XRCC1) and human 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase 1 (hOGG1) are two BER genes, and xeroderma pigmentosum group A (XPA) and xeroderma pigmentosum group D (XPD) are two NER genes. Polymorphisms of these genes are associated with the differences in their repair DNA damage capacity, and they modulate the susceptibility to cancer. Because the polymorphism of hOGG1 was reported to be associated with pterygium, it is logical to assume the correlation between XRCC1, XPA, and XPD polymorphisms and pterygium formation.
One hundred and twenty-seven pterygium patients and 103 volunteers without pterygium were enrolled in this study. Polymerase chain reaction based analysis was used to resolve the XRCC1 codon 107, 194, 280, and 399; XPA A23G; XPA codon 228; and XPD codon 751 polymorphisms.
There were significant differences in the frequency of genotypes and alleles of XRCC1 codon 194 and 399 polymorphisms between the groups. In codon 194, individuals who carried at least 1 Trp allele had a decreased risk of developing pterygium compared to those who carried the Arg/Arg wild-type genotype (odds ratio [OR]=0.58; 95% CI: 0.34–0.98). In codon 399, individuals who carried at least 1 Gln allele had a threefold increased risk of developing pterygium compared to those who carried the Arg/Arg wild-type genotype (OR=3.06; 95% CI: 1.78–5.26). There were no significant differences in the frequency of the genotypes and alleles of XRCC1 codon 107 and 280, XPA A23G, and XPD codon 751 polymorphisms between the groups. The XPA codon 228 polymorphism was not detected in any of the cases or controls.
The XRCC1 codon 194 polymorphism causes a decreased risk of developing pterygium, but the codon 399 polymorphism increases the risk. There is no correlation between pterygium and XRCC1 codon 107 and 280, XPA A23G, and XPD codon 751 polymorphisms.
PMCID: PMC2861123  PMID: 20431719
24.  Coordination of DNA–PK Activation and Nuclease Processing of DNA Termini in NHEJ 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(12):2531-2543.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), particularly those induced by ionizing radiation (IR), are complex lesions that can be cytotoxic if not properly repaired. IR-induced DSB often have DNA termini modifications, including thymine glycols, ring fragmentation, 3′-phosphoglycolates, 5′-hydroxyl groups, and abasic sites. Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) is a major pathway responsible for the repair of these complex breaks. Proteins involved in NHEJ include the Ku 70/80 heterodimer, DNA–PKcs, processing proteins including Artemis and DNA polymerases μ and λ, XRCC4, DNA ligase IV, and XLF. We will discuss the role of the physical and functional interactions of DNA–PK as a result of activation, with an emphasis on DNA structure, chemistry, and sequence. With the diversity of IR induced DSB, it is becoming increasingly clear that multiple DNA processing enzymes are likely necessary for effective repair of a break. We will explore the roles of several important processing enzymes, with a focus on the nuclease Artemis and its role in processing diverse DSB. The effect of DNA termini on both DNA–PK and Artemis activity will be analyzed from a structural and biochemical view. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 2531–2543.
PMCID: PMC3096510  PMID: 20698792
25.  Single-nucleotide and long-patch base excision repair of DNA damage in plants 
The Plant Journal  2009;60(4):716-728.
Base excision repair (BER) is a critical pathway in cellular defense against endogenous or exogenous DNA damage. This elaborate multistep process is initiated by DNA glycosylases that excise the damaged base, and continues through the concerted action of additional proteins that finally restore DNA to the unmodified state. BER has been subject to detailed biochemical analysis in bacteria, yeast and animals, mainly through in vitro reproduction of the entire repair reaction in cell-free extracts. However, an understanding of this repair pathway in plants has consistently lagged behind. We report the extension of BER biochemical analysis to plants, using Arabidopsis cell extracts to monitor repair of DNA base damage in vitro. We have used this system to demonstrate that Arabidopsis cell extracts contain the enzymatic machinery required to completely repair ubiquitous DNA lesions, such as uracil and abasic (AP) sites. Our results reveal that AP sites generated after uracil excision are processed both by AP endonucleases and AP lyases, generating either 5′- or 3′-blocked ends, respectively. We have also found that gap filling and ligation may proceed either through insertion of just one nucleotide (short-patch BER) or several nucleotides (long-patch BER). This experimental system should prove useful in the biochemical and genetic dissection of BER in plants, and contribute to provide a broader picture of the evolution and biological relevance of DNA repair pathways.
PMCID: PMC2954439  PMID: 19682284
abasic sites; Arabidopsis; DNA polymerase; DNA repair; uracil

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