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1.  PALB2 self-interaction controls homologous recombination 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):10312-10323.
PALB2 is essential for BRCA2 anchorage to nuclear structures and for homologous recombinational repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Here, we report that the N-terminal coiled-coil motif of PALB2 regulates its self-association and homologous recombination. Monomeric PALB2 shows higher efficiency to bind DNA and promotes RAD51 filament formation with or without the inhibitory effect of Replication Protein A. Moreover, overexpression of the PALB2 coiled-coil domain severely affects RAD51 loading to DNA damage sites suggesting a competition between PALB2 self-interaction and PALB2–BRCA1 interaction. In the presence of DNA damage, the switch between PALB2–PALB2 and PALB2–BRCA1 interactions allows the activation of HR. Controlling HR via PALB2 self-interactions could be important to prevent aberrant recombination in normal conditions and activate DNA repair when required.
PMCID: PMC3488246  PMID: 22941656
2.  Fanconi Anemia Group J Helicase and MRE11 Nuclease Interact To Facilitate the DNA Damage Response 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(11):2212-2227.
FANCJ mutations are linked to Fanconi anemia (FA) and increase breast cancer risk. FANCJ encodes a DNA helicase implicated in homologous recombination (HR) repair of double-strand breaks (DSBs) and interstrand cross-links (ICLs), but its mechanism of action is not well understood. Here we show with live-cell imaging that FANCJ recruitment to laser-induced DSBs but not psoralen-induced ICLs is dependent on nuclease-active MRE11. FANCJ interacts directly with MRE11 and inhibits its exonuclease activity in a specific manner, suggesting that FANCJ regulates the MRE11 nuclease to facilitate DSB processing and appropriate end resection. Cells deficient in FANCJ and MRE11 show increased ionizing radiation (IR) resistance, reduced numbers of γH2AX and RAD51 foci, and elevated numbers of DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit foci, suggesting that HR is compromised and the nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway is elicited to help cells cope with IR-induced strand breaks. Interplay between FANCJ and MRE11 ensures a normal response to IR-induced DSBs, whereas FANCJ involvement in ICL repair is regulated by MLH1 and the FA pathway. Our findings are discussed in light of the current model for HR repair.
PMCID: PMC3648079  PMID: 23530059
3.  Detection of the HIV-1 Minus-Strand-Encoded Antisense Protein and Its Association with Autophagy 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(9):5089-5105.
HIV-1 proteins are synthesized from a single transcript in an unspliced form or following splicing, but the existence of an antisense protein (ASP) expressed from an antisense polyadenylated transcript has been suggested. Difficulties linked to the detection of this protein in mammalian cells led us to codon optimize its cDNA. Codon-optimized ASP was indeed efficiently detected in various transfected cell lines following flow cytometry and confocal microscopy analyses. Western blot analyses also led to the detection of optimized ASP in transfected cells but also provided evidence of its instability and high multimerization potential. ASP was mainly distributed in the cytoplasm in a punctate manner, which was reminiscent of autophagosomes. In agreement with this observation, a significant increase in ASP-positive cells and loss of its punctate distribution was observed in transfected cells when autophagy was inhibited at early steps. Induction of autophagy was confirmed by Western blot analyses that showed an ASP-mediated increase in levels of LC3b-II and Beclin 1, as well as colocalization and interaction between ASP and LC3. Interestingly, Myc-tagged ASP was detected in the context of proviral DNA following autophagy inhibition with a concomitant increase in the level and punctate distribution of LC3b-II. Finally, 3-methyladenine treatment of transfected or infected U937 cells decreased extracellular p24 levels in wild-type proviral DNA and to a much lesser extent in ASP-mutated proviral DNA. This study provides the first detection of ASP in mammalian cells by Western blotting. ASP-induced autophagy might explain the inherent difficulty in detecting this viral protein and might justify its presumed low abundance in infected cells.
PMCID: PMC3624327  PMID: 23427159
4.  The microRNA pathway controls germ cell proliferation and differentiation in C. elegans 
Cell Research  2012;22(6):1034-1045.
The discovery of the miRNA pathway revealed a new layer of molecular control of biological processes. To uncover new functions of this gene regulatory pathway, we undertook the characterization of the two miRNA-specific Argonaute proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans, ALG-1 and ALG-2. We first observed that the loss-of-function of alg-1 and alg-2 genes resulted in reduced progeny number. An extensive analysis of the germline of these mutants revealed a reduced mitotic region, indicating fewer proliferating germ cells. We also observed an early entry into meiosis in alg-1 and alg-2 mutant animals. We detected ALG-1 and ALG-2 protein expressions in the distal tip cell (DTC), a specialized cell located at the tip of both C. elegans gonadal arms that regulates mitosis-meiosis transition. Re-establishing the expression of alg-1 specifically in the DTC of mutant animals partially rescued the observed germline defects. Further analyses also support the implication of the miRNA pathway in gametogenesis. Interestingly, we observed that disruption of five miRNAs expressed in the DTC led to similar phenotypes. Finally, gene expression analysis of alg-1 mutant gonads suggests that the miRNA pathway is involved in the regulation of different pathways important for germline proliferation and differentiation. Collectively, our data indicate that the miRNA pathway plays a crucial role in the control of germ cell biogenesis in C. elegans.
PMCID: PMC3367518  PMID: 22370633
argonaute; miRNA; germline
6.  The MRE11 GAR motif regulates DNA double-strand break processing and ATR activation 
Cell Research  2011;22(2):305-320.
The MRE11/RAD50/NBS1 complex is the primary sensor rapidly recruited to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). MRE11 is known to be arginine methylated by PRMT1 within its glycine-arginine-rich (GAR) motif. In this study, we report a mouse knock-in allele of Mre11 that substitutes the arginines with lysines in the GAR motif and generates the MRE11RK protein devoid of methylated arginines. The Mre11RK/RK mice were hypersensitive to γ-irradiation (IR) and the cells from these mice displayed cell cycle checkpoint defects and chromosome instability. Moreover, the Mre11RK/RK MEFs exhibited ATR/CHK1 signaling defects and impairment in the recruitment of RPA and RAD51 to the damaged sites. The MRKRN complex formed and localized to the sites of DNA damage and normally activated the ATM pathway in response to IR. The MRKRN complex exhibited exonuclease and DNA-binding defects in vitro responsible for the impaired DNA end resection and ATR activation observed in vivo in response to IR. Our findings provide genetic evidence for the critical role of the MRE11 GAR motif in DSB repair, and demonstrate a mechanistic link between post-translational modifications at the MRE11 GAR motif and DSB processing, as well as the ATR/CHK1 checkpoint signaling.
PMCID: PMC3271587  PMID: 21826105
DNA damage signaling; arginine methylation; GAR motif; MRE11; ATR
7.  PARP activation regulates the RNA-binding protein NONO in the DNA damage response to DNA double-strand breaks 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):10287-10301.
After the generation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) is one of the first proteins to be recruited and activated through its binding to the free DNA ends. Upon activation, PARP-1 uses NAD+ to generate large amounts of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR), which facilitates the recruitment of DNA repair factors. Here, we identify the RNA-binding protein NONO, a partner protein of SFPQ, as a novel PAR-binding protein. The protein motif being primarily responsible for PAR-binding is the RNA recognition motif 1 (RRM1), which is also crucial for RNA-binding, highlighting a competition between RNA and PAR as they share the same binding site. Strikingly, the in vivo recruitment of NONO to DNA damage sites completely depends on PAR, generated by activated PARP-1. Furthermore, we show that upon PAR-dependent recruitment, NONO stimulates nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) and represses homologous recombination (HR) in vivo. Our results therefore place NONO after PARP activation in the context of DNA DSB repair pathway decision. Understanding the mechanism of action of proteins that act in the same pathway as PARP-1 is crucial to shed more light onto the effect of interference on PAR-mediated pathways with PARP inhibitors, which have already reached phase III clinical trials but are until date poorly understood.
PMCID: PMC3488241  PMID: 22941645
8.  Interactions between BRCA2 and RAD51 for promoting homologous recombination in Leishmania infantum 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(14):6570-6584.
In most organisms, the primary function of homologous recombination (HR) is to allow genome protection by the faithful repair of DNA double-strand breaks. The vital step of HR is the search for sequence homology, mediated by the RAD51 recombinase, which is stimulated further by proteins mediators such as the tumor suppressor BRCA2. The biochemical interplay between RAD51 and BRCA2 is unknown in Leishmania or Trypanosoma. Here we show that the Leishmania infantum BRCA2 protein possesses several critical features important for the regulation of DNA recombination at the genetic and biochemical level. A BRCA2 null mutant, generated by gene disruption, displayed genomic instability and gene-targeting defects. Furthermore, cytological studies show that LiRAD51 can no longer localize to the nucleus in this mutant. The Leishmania RAD51 and BRCA2 interact together and the purified proteins bind single-strand DNA. Remarkably, LiBRCA2 is a recombination mediator that stimulates the invasion of a resected DNA double-strand break in an undamaged template by LiRAD51 to form a D-loop structure. Collectively, our data show that LiBRCA2 and LiRAD51 promote HR at the genetic and biochemical level in L. infantum, the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis.
PMCID: PMC3413117  PMID: 22505581
9.  CBX4-mediated SUMO modification regulates BMI1 recruitment at sites of DNA damage 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(12):5497-5510.
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are involved in epigenetic silencing where they function as major determinants of cell identity, stem cell pluripotency and the epigenetic gene silencing involved in cancer development. Recently numerous PcG proteins, including CBX4, have been shown to accumulate at sites of DNA damage. However, it remains unclear whether or not CBX4 or its E3 sumo ligase activity is directly involved in the DNA damage response (DDR). Here we define a novel role for CBX4 as an early DDR protein that mediates SUMO conjugation at sites of DNA lesions. DNA damage stimulates sumoylation of BMI1 by CBX4 at lysine 88, which is required for the accumulation of BMI1 at DNA damage sites. Moreover, we establish that CBX4 recruitment to the sites of laser micro-irradiation-induced DNA damage requires PARP activity but does not require H2AX, RNF8, BMI1 nor PI-3-related kinases. The importance of CBX4 in the DDR was confirmed by the depletion of CBX4, which resulted in decreased cellular resistance to ionizing radiation. Our results reveal a direct role for CBX4 in the DDR pathway.
PMCID: PMC3384338  PMID: 22402492
10.  The Effect of a DNA Repair Gene on Cellular Invasiveness: Xrcc3 Over-Expression in Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16394.
Over-expression of DNA repair genes has been associated with resistance to radiation and DNA-damage induced by chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin. More recently, based on the analysis of genome expression profiling, it was proposed that over-expression of DNA repair genes enhances the invasive behaviour of tumour cells. In this study we present experimental evidence utilizing functional assays to test this hypothesis. We assessed the effect of the DNA repair proteins known as X-ray complementing protein 3 (XRCC3) and RAD51, to the invasive behavior of the MCF-7 luminal epithelial-like and BT20 basal-like triple negative human breast cancer cell lines. We report that stable or transient over-expression of XRCC3 but not RAD51 increased invasiveness in both cell lines in vitro. Moreover, XRCC3 over-expressing MCF-7 cells also showed a higher tumorigenesis in vivo and this phenotype was associated with increased activity of the metalloproteinase MMP-9 and the expression of known modulators of cell-cell adhesion and metastasis such as CD44, ID-1, DDR1 and TFF1. Our results suggest that in addition to its' role in facilitating repair of DNA damage, XRCC3 affects invasiveness of breast cancer cell lines and the expression of genes associated with cell adhesion and invasion.
PMCID: PMC3025979  PMID: 21283680
11.  A Key Role for Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase 3 in Ectodermal Specification and Neural Crest Development 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15834.
The PARP family member poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 3 (PARP3) is structurally related to the well characterized PARP1 that orchestrates cellular responses to DNA strand breaks and cell death by the synthesis of poly(ADP-ribose). In contrast to PARP1 and PARP2, the functions of PARP3 are undefined. Here, we reveal critical functions for PARP3 during vertebrate development.
Principal Findings
We have used several in vitro and in vivo approaches to examine the possible functions of PARP3 as a transcriptional regulator, a function suggested from its previously reported association with several Polycomb group (PcG) proteins. We demonstrate that PARP3 gene occupancy in the human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-SH occurs preferentially with developmental genes regulating cell fate specification, tissue patterning, craniofacial development and neurogenesis. Addressing the significance of this association during zebrafish development, we show that morpholino oligonucleotide-directed inhibition of parp3 expression in zebrafish impairs the expression of the neural crest cell specifier sox9a and of dlx3b/dlx4b, the formation of cranial sensory placodes, inner ears and pectoral fins. It delays pigmentation and severely impedes the development of the median fin fold and tail bud.
Our findings demonstrate that Parp3 is crucial in the early stages of zebrafish development, possibly by exerting its transcriptional regulatory functions as early as during the specification of the neural plate border.
PMCID: PMC3022025  PMID: 21264220
12.  SMN Protects cells against mutant SOD1 toxicity by increasing chaperone activity 
Deletion or mutation of the survival of motor neuron (SMN1) gene causes Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a motor neuron degenerative disease. To study the SMN function, we co-transfected mouse NSC34 cells with SMN and mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) constructs. We demonstrated that SMN protected NSC34 cells against cell death induced by mutant SOD1 under oxidative stress. Further studies indicated that over-expression of wild-type SMN up regulated chaperone activity. In contrast, chaperone activity was decreased in cells expressing SMN mutant Y272C or in cells with SMN suppressed by shRNA. In vitro assays using bacteria lysates expressing GST-SMN or purified GST-SMN protein showed that the GST-SMN reduced catalase aggregation, indicating that SMN may possess chaperone activity. We conclude that SMN plays a protective role in motor neurons by its chaperone activity. Our results provide support for the potential development of therapy for SMA and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
PMCID: PMC2169267  PMID: 17964281
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); the survival of motor neuron (SMN); superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1); Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); M Chaperone
13.  A Glycine-Arginine Domain in Control of the Human MRE11 DNA Repair Protein▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(9):3058-3069.
Human MRE11 is a key enzyme in DNA double-strand break repair and genome stability. Human MRE11 bears a glycine-arginine-rich (GAR) motif that is conserved among multicellular eukaryotic species. We investigated how this motif influences MRE11 function. Human MRE11 alone or a complex of MRE11, RAD50, and NBS1 (MRN) was methylated in insect cells, suggesting that this modification is conserved during evolution. We demonstrate that PRMT1 interacts with MRE11 but not with the MRN complex, suggesting that MRE11 arginine methylation occurs prior to the binding of NBS1 and RAD50. Moreover, the first six methylated arginines are essential for the regulation of MRE11 DNA binding and nuclease activity. The inhibition of arginine methylation leads to a reduction in MRE11 and RAD51 focus formation on a unique double-strand break in vivo. Furthermore, the MRE11-methylated GAR domain is sufficient for its targeting to DNA damage foci and colocalization with γ-H2AX. These studies highlight an important role for the GAR domain in regulating MRE11 function at the biochemical and cellular levels during DNA double-strand break repair.
PMCID: PMC2293076  PMID: 18285453
14.  Stimulation of fission yeast and mouse Hop2-Mnd1 of the Dmc1 and Rad51 recombinases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(8):2719-2733.
Genetic analysis of fission yeast suggests a role for the spHop2–Mnd1 proteins in the Rad51 and Dmc1-dependent meiotic recombination pathways. In order to gain biochemical insights into this process, we purified Schizosaccharomyces pombe Hop2-Mnd1 to homogeneity. spHop2 and spMnd1 interact by co-immunoprecipitation and two-hybrid analysis. Electron microscopy reveals that S. pombe Hop2–Mnd1 binds single-strand DNA ends of 3′-tailed DNA. Interestingly, spHop2-Mnd1 promotes the renaturation of complementary single-strand DNA and catalyses strand exchange reactions with short oligonucleotides. Importantly, we show that spHop2-Mnd1 stimulates spDmc1-dependent strand exchange and strand invasion. Ca2+ alleviate the requirement for the order of addition of the proteins on DNA. We also demonstrate that while spHop2-Mnd1 affects spDmc1 specifically, mHop2 or mHop2-Mnd1 stimulates both the hRad51 and hDmc1 recombinases in strand exchange assays. Thus, our results suggest a crucial role for S. pombe and mouse Hop2-Mnd1 in homologous pairing and strand exchange and reveal evolutionary divergence in their specificity for the Dmc1 and Rad51 recombinases.
PMCID: PMC1885673  PMID: 17426123
15.  The Transcriptional Histone Acetyltransferase Cofactor TRRAP Associates with the MRN Repair Complex and Plays a Role in DNA Double-Strand Break Repair†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(2):402-412.
Transactivation-transformation domain-associated protein (TRRAP) is a component of several multiprotein histone acetyltransferase (HAT) complexes implicated in transcriptional regulation. TRRAP was shown to be required for the mitotic checkpoint and normal cell cycle progression. MRE11, RAD50, and NBS1 (product of the Nijmegan breakage syndrome gene) form the MRN complex that is involved in the detection, signaling, and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). By using double immunopurification, mass spectrometry, and gel filtration, we describe the stable association of TRRAP with the MRN complex. The TRRAP-MRN complex is not associated with any detectable HAT activity, while the isolated other TRRAP complexes, containing either GCN5 or TIP60, are. TRRAP-depleted extracts show a reduced nonhomologous DNA end-joining activity in vitro. Importantly, small interfering RNA knockdown of TRRAP in HeLa cells or TRRAP knockout in mouse embryonic stem cells inhibit the DSB end-joining efficiency and the precise nonhomologous end-joining process, further suggesting a functional involvement of TRRAP in the DSB repair processes. Thus, TRRAP may function as a molecular link between DSB signaling, repair, and chromatin remodeling.
PMCID: PMC1346889  PMID: 16382133
16.  Fission Yeast Rad51 and Dmc1, Two Efficient DNA Recombinases Forming Helical Nucleoprotein Filaments 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(11):4377-4387.
Homologous recombination is important for the repair of double-strand breaks during meiosis. Eukaryotic cells require two homologs of Escherichia coli RecA protein, Rad51 and Dmc1, for meiotic recombination. To date, it is not clear, at the biochemical level, why two homologs of RecA are necessary during meiosis. To gain insight into this, we purified Schizosaccharomyces pombe Rad51 and Dmc1 to homogeneity. Purified Rad51 and Dmc1 form homo-oligomers, bind single-stranded DNA preferentially, and exhibit DNA-stimulated ATPase activity. Both Rad51 and Dmc1 promote the renaturation of complementary single-stranded DNA. Importantly, Rad51 and Dmc1 proteins catalyze ATP-dependent strand exchange reactions with homologous duplex DNA. Electron microscopy reveals that both S. pombe Rad51 and Dmc1 form nucleoprotein filaments. Rad51 formed helical nucleoprotein filaments on single-stranded DNA, whereas Dmc1 was found in two forms, as helical filaments and also as stacked rings. These results demonstrate that Rad51 and Dmc1 are both efficient recombinases in lower eukaryotes and reveal closer functional and structural similarities between the meiotic recombinase Dmc1 and Rad51. The DNA strand exchange activity of both Rad51 and Dmc1 is most likely critical for proper meiotic DNA double-strand break repair in lower eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC1140613  PMID: 15899844
17.  Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Structure–Activity Relationships of Novel Substituted N-Phenyl Ureidobenzenesulfonate Derivatives Blocking Cell Cycle Progression in S-Phase and Inducing DNA Double-Strand Breaks 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2012;55(13):6194-6208.
Twenty-eight new substituted N-phenyl ureidobenzenesulfonate (PUB-SO) and 18 N-phenylureidobenzenesulfonamide (PUB-SA) derivatives were prepared. Several PUB-SOs exhibited antiproliferative activity at the micromolar level against the HT-29, M21, and MCF-7 cell lines and blocked cell cycle progression in S-phase similarly to cisplatin. In addition, PUB-SOs induced histone H2AX (γH2AX) phosphorylation, indicating that these molecules induce DNA double-strand breaks. In contrast, PUB-SAs were less active than PUB-SOs and did not block cell cycle progression in S-phase. Finally, PUB-SOs 4 and 46 exhibited potent antitumor activity in HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells grafted onto chick chorioallantoic membranes, which was similar to cisplatin and combretastatin A-4 and without significant toxicity toward chick embryos. These new compounds are members of a promising new class of anticancer agents.
PMCID: PMC3395254  PMID: 22694057

Results 1-17 (17)