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1.  Downregulation of XPF–ERCC1 enhances cisplatin efficacy in cancer cells☆ 
DNA repair  2010;9(7):745-753.
Bulky cisplatin lesions are repaired primarily by nucleotide excision repair (NER), in which the structure specific endonuclease XPF–ERCC1 is a critical component. It is now known that the XPF–ERCC1 complex has repair functions beyond NER and plays a role in homologous recombination (HR). It has been suggested that expression of ERCC1 correlates with cisplatin drug resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In our study, using NSCLC, ovarian, and breast cancer cells, we show that the XPF–ERCC1 complex is a valid target to increase cisplatin cytotoxicity and efficacy. We targeted XPF–ERCC1 complex by RNA interference and assessed the repair capacity of cisplatin intrastrand and interstrand crosslinks by ELISA and alkaline comet assay, respectively. We also assessed the repair of cisplatin-ICL-induced double-strand breaks (DSBs) by monitoring γ-H2AX focus formation. Interestingly, XPF protein levels were significantly reduced following ERCC1 downregulation, but the converse was not observed. The transcript levels were unaffected suggesting that XPF protein stability is likely affected. The repair of both types of cisplatin-DNA lesions was decreased with downregulation of XPF, ERCC1 or both XPF–ERCC1. The ICL-induced DSBs persist in the absence of XPF–ERCC1. The suppression of the XPF–ERCC1 complex significantly decreases the cellular viability which correlates well with the decrease in DNA repair capacity. A double knockdown of XPF–ERCC1 displays the greatest level of cellular cytotoxicity when compared with XPF or ERCC1 alone. The difference in cytotoxicity observed is likely due to the level of total protein complex remaining. These data demonstrate that XPF–ERCC1 is a valid target to enhance cisplatin efficacy in cancer cells by affecting cisplatin-DNA repair pathways.
PMCID: PMC4331052  PMID: 20418188
XPF–ERCC1; Cisplatin; DNA repair and cancer
2.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3926126  PMID: 24382305
3.  The C-terminus of Nej1 is critical for nuclear localization and non-homologous end-joining 
DNA repair  2013;14:9-16.
Nej1 is an essential factor in the non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway and interacts with the DNA ligase complex, Lif1-Dnl4, through interactions with Lif1. We have mapped K331-V338 in the C-terminal region of Nej1 to be critical for its functionality during repair. Truncation and alanine scanning mutagenesis have been used to identify a motif in Nej1, KKRK (331–334), which is important for both nuclear targeting and NHEJ repair after localization. We have identified F335-V338 to be important for proper interaction with Lif1, however this region is not required for Nej1 recruitment to HO endonuclease-induced DNA double-strand breaks in vivo. Phenylalanine at position 335 is particularly important for the role of Nej1 in repair and the loss of association between Nej1 and Lif1 correlates with a decrease in cell survival upon either transient or continuous HO expression in nej1 mutants.
PMCID: PMC4122420  PMID: 24369855
DNA repair; Nej1p; Lif1p; Non-homologous end-joining; double-strand breaks
4.  Single molecule Studies of DNA Mismatch Repair 
DNA repair  2014;20:71-81.
DNA mismatch repair involves is a widely conserved set of proteins that is essential to limit genetic drift in all organisms. The same system of proteins plays key roles in many cancer related cellular transactions in humans. Although the basic process has been reconstituted in vitro using purified components, many fundamental aspects of DNA mismatch repair remain hidden due in part to the complexity and transient nature of the interactions between the mismatch repair proteins and DNA substrates. Single molecule methods offer the capability to uncover these transient but complex interactions and allow novel insights into mechanisms that underlie DNA mismatch repair. In this review, we discuss applications of single molecule methodology including electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, particle tracking, FRET, and optical trapping to studies of DNA mismatch repair. These studies have led to formulation of mechanistic models of how proteins identify single base mismatches in the vast background of matched DNA and signal for their repair.
PMCID: PMC4310750  PMID: 24746644
5.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4295835  PMID: 24560558
6.  Epigenetic and genetic inactivation of tyrosyl-DNA-phosphodiesterase 1 (TDP1) in human lung cancer cells from the NCI-60 panel 
DNA repair  2013;13:1-9.
Tyrosyl-DNA-phosphodiesterase 1 (TDP1) repairs 3’-blocking DNA lesions by catalytically hydrolyzing the tyrosyl-DNA-phosphodiester bond of trapped topoisomerase I (Top1) cleavage complexes (Top1cc). It also removes 3’-blocking residues derived from oxidative damage or incorporation of chain terminating anticancer and antiviral nucleosides. Thus, TDP1 is regarded as a determinant of resistance to Top1 inhibitors and chain terminating nucleosides, and possibly of genomic stability. In the 60 cell lines of the NCI Developmental Therapeutic Anticancer Screen (the NCI-60), whose whole genome transcriptome and mutations have recently been characterized, we discovered two human lung cancer cell lines deficient for TDP1 (NCI_H522 and HOP_62). HOP_62 shows undetectable TDP1 mRNA and NCI_H522 bears a homozygous deleterious mutation of TDP1 at a highly conserved amino acid residue (K292E). Absence of TDP1 protein and lack of TDP1 catalytic activity were demonstrated in cell lysates from both cell lines. Lack of TDP1 expression in HOP_62 was shown to be due to TDP1 promoter hypermethylation. Our study provides insights into the possible inactivation of TDP1 in cancers and its relationship to cellular response to Top1-targeted drugs. It also reveals two TDP1 knockout lung cancer cell lines for further TDP1 functional analyses.
PMCID: PMC3919147  PMID: 24355542
TDP1; Topoisomerases; topotecan; CellMiner; promoter hypermethylation
7.  Enforced telomere elongation increases the sensitivity of human tumour cells to ionizing radiation 
DNA Repair  2015;25:54-59.
•Telomere elongation decreases human tumour cell viability after irradiation.•The longer the telomeres, the greater the sensitivity to sub-lethal irradiation.•Increased sensitivity to irradiation is independent of telomere signal-free ends.
More than 85% of all human cancers possess the ability to maintain chromosome ends, or telomeres, by virtue of telomerase activity. Loss of functional telomeres is incompatible with survival, and telomerase inhibition has been established in several model systems to be a tractable target for cancer therapy. As human tumour cells typically maintain short equilibrium telomere lengths, we wondered if enforced telomere elongation would positively or negatively impact cell survival. We found that telomere elongation beyond a certain length significantly decreased cell clonogenic survival after gamma irradiation. Susceptibility to irradiation was dosage-dependent and increased at telomere lengths exceeding 17 kbp despite the fact that all chromosome ends retained telomeric DNA. These data suggest that an optimal telomere length may promote human cancer cell survival in the presence of genotoxic stress.
PMCID: PMC4286114  PMID: 25484304
Telomeres; Telomerase; Human tumour cells; Gamma irradiation; DNA damage; ALT, alternative lengthening of telomeres; ANOVA, analysis of variance; CST, CTC1, STN1 and TEN1 complex; DSB, double-stranded DNA break; hTR, human telomerase RNA; PDL, population doubling level; PE, plating efficiency; Q-FISH, quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization; SF, survival fraction; SFE, signal-free end; SV40, simian virus 40; TERT, telomerase reverse transcriptase; TRF, telomere restriction fragment
8.  hRev7, putative subunit of hPolζ, plays a critical role in survival, induction of mutations, and progression through S-phase, of UV(254nm)-irradiated human fibroblasts 
DNA repair  2008;7(4):597-604.
Translesion synthesis (TLS) refers to mechanisms by which specialized DNA polymerases incorporate nucleotides opposite fork-blocking lesions and extend replication until standard replicative polymerases take over. The first eukaryotic TLS polymerase discovered, S. cerevisiae Polζ, consists of catalytic subunit Rev3 and non-catalytic subunit Rev7. Human homologs of these two proteins have been identified. Studies by Lawrence, Maher, and colleagues comparing UV(254nm)-irradiated human fibroblast cell strains expressing high levels of hRev3 antisense to their normal parental strains, demonstrated that there was no difference in cell survival, but that the frequency of UV-induced mutations in the derivative strains was 10-fold lower than that of the parental strains, indicating that hRev3 plays a critical role in such mutagenesis. To examine the role of hRev7 in TLS, we generated human fibroblasts expressing hRev7 siRNA, identified two derivative cell strains with significantly reduced levels of hRev7, and compared them to their parental strain and a vector control for cell survival, induction of mutations, and ability to traverse the cell cycle following exposure to UV radiation. Cells with reduced hRev7 were ~2-times more sensitive to UV-induced cytotoxicity than the controls, indicating that unlike hRev3, hRev7 plays a protective role for cells exposed to UV radiation. When these cell strains were assayed for the frequency of mutations induced by UV in their HPRT gene, cell stains with reduced hRev7 were 5-times less sensitive to UV-induced mutagenesis than control strains. In addition, when these four strains were synchronized at the G1/S border, released from the block, UV-irradiated, and allowed to traverse the cell cycle, the rate of progression through S-phase of the cell strains with reduced hRev7 was significantly slower than that of the control strains. These data strongly support the hypothesis that hRev7 is required for TLS past UV-photoproducts, and together with hRev3, comprise hPolζ.
PMCID: PMC4275125  PMID: 18295554
9.  Human NEIL3 is mainly a monofunctional DNA glycosylase removing spiroiminohydantoin and guanidinohydantoin 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.04.026.
Base excision repair is the major pathway for removal of oxidative DNA base damage. This pathway is initiated by DNA glycosylases, which recognize and excise damaged bases from DNA. In this work, we have purified the glycosylase domain (GD) of human DNA glycosylase NEIL3. The substrate specificity has been characterized and we have elucidated the catalytic mechanisms. GD NEIL3 excised the hydantoin lesions spiroiminodihydantoin (Sp) and guanidinohydantoin (Gh) in single-stranded (ss) and double-stranded (ds) DNA efficiently. NEIL3 also removed 5-hydroxy-2’-deoxycytidine (5OHC) and 5-hydroxy-2’-deoxyuridine (5OHU) in ssDNA, but less efficiently than hydantoins. Unlike NEIL1 and NEIL2, which possess a β,δ-elimination activity, NEIL3 mainly incised damaged DNA by β-elimination. Further, the base excision and strand incision activities of NEIL3 exhibited a non-concerted action, indicating that NEIL3 mainly operate as a monofunctional DNA glycosylase. The site-specific NEIL3 mutant V2P, however, showed a concerted action, suggesting that the N-terminal amino group in Val2 is critical for the monofunctional modus. Finally, we demonstrated that residue Lys81 is essential for catalysis.
PMCID: PMC3840045  PMID: 23755964
Oxidation; DNA damage; Base excision repair; DNA glycosylase; Human NEIL3; mouse Neil3
10.  Specificity in suppression of SOS expression by recA4162 and uvrD303 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.09.003.
Detection and repair of DNA damage is essential in all organisms and depends on the ability of proteins recognizing and processing specific DNA substrates. In E. coli, the RecA protein forms a filament on single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) produced by DNA damage and induces the SOS response. Previous work has shown that one type of recA mutation (e.g., recA4162 (I298V)) and one type of uvrD mutation (e.g., uvrD303 (D403A, D404A)) can differentially decrease SOS expression depending on the type of inducing treatments (UV damage versus RecA mutants that constitutively express SOS). Here it is tested using other SOS inducing conditions if there is a general feature of ssDNA generated during these treatments that allows recA4162 and uvrD303 to decrease SOS expression. The SOS inducing conditions tested include growing cells containing temperature-sensitive DNA replication mutations (dnaE486, dnaG2903, dnaN159, dnaZ2016 (at 37°C)), a del(polA)501 mutation and induction of Double-Strand Breaks (DSBs). uvrD303 could decrease SOS expression under all conditions, while recA4162 could decrease SOS expression under all conditions except in the polA strain or when DSBs occur. It is hypothesized that recA4162 suppresses SOS expression best when the ssDNA occurs at a gap and that uvrD303 is able to decrease SOS expression when the ssDNA is either at a gap or when it is generated at a DSB (but does so better at a gap).
PMCID: PMC3845027  PMID: 24084169
SOS Response; homologous recombination; DNA repair; DNA replication
11.  Slow accumulation of mutations in Xpc−/− mice upon induction of oxidative stress 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.08.019.
XPC is one of the key DNA damage recognition proteins in the global genome repair route of the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway. Previously, we demonstrated that NER-deficient mouse models Xpa−/− and Xpc−/− exhibit a divergent spontaneous tumor spectrum and proposed that XPC might be functionally involved in the defense against oxidative DNA damage. Others have mechanistically dissected several functionalities of XPC to oxidative DNA damage sensitivity using in vitro studies. XPC has been linked to regulation of base excision repair (BER) activity, redox homeostasis and recruitment of ATM and ATR to damage sites, thereby possibly regulating cell cycle checkpoints and apoptosis. XPC has additionally been implicated in recognition of bulky (e.g. cyclopurines) and non-bulky DNA damage (8-oxodG). However, the ultimate contribution of the XPC functionality in vivo in the oxidative DNA damage response and subsequent mutagenesis process remains unclear. Our study indicates that Xpc−/− mice, in contrary to Xpa−/− and wild type mice, have an increased mutational load upon induction of oxidative stress and that mutations arise in a slowly accumulative fashion. The effect of non-functional XPC in vivo upon oxidative stress exposure appears to have implications in mutagenesis, which can contribute to the carcinogenesis process. The levels and rate of mutagenesis upon oxidative stress correlate with previous findings that lung tumors in Xpc−/− mice overall arise late in the lifespan and that the incidence of internal tumors in XP-C patients is relatively low in comparison to skin cancer incidence.
PMCID: PMC3847164  PMID: 24084170
Xpc; Xpa; Nucleotide Excision Repair; Oxidative DNA damage; Mutagenesis; Carcinogenesis
12.  Structural Investigation of a Viral Ortholog of Human NEIL2/3 DNA Glycosylases 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.09.004.
Assault to DNA that leads to oxidative base damage is repaired by the base excision repair (BER) pathway with specialized enzymes called DNA glycosylases catalyzing the first step of this pathway. These glycosylases can be categorized into two families: the HhH superfamily, which includes endonuclease III (or Nth), and the Fpg/Nei family, which comprises formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (or Fpg) and endonuclease VIII (or Nei). In humans there are three Nei-like (NEIL) glycosylases: NEIL1, 2, and 3. Here we present the first crystal structure of a viral ortholog of the human NEIL2/NEIL3 proteins, Mimivirus Nei2 (MvNei2), determined at 2.04 Å resolution. The C-terminal region of the MvNei2 enzyme comprises two conserved DNA binding motifs: the helix-two-turns-helix (H2TH) motif and a C-H-C-C type zinc-finger similar to that of human NEIL2. The N-terminal region of MvNei2 is most closely related to NEIL3. Like NEIL3, MvNei2 bears a valine at position 2 instead of the usual proline and it lacks two of the three conserved void-filling residues present in other members of the Fpg/Nei family. Mutational analysis of the only conserved void-filling residue methionine 72 to alanine yields an MvNei2 variant with impaired glycosylase activity. Mutation of the adjacent His73 causes the enzyme to be more productive thereby suggesting a plausible role for this residue in the DNA lesion search process.
PMCID: PMC3856876  PMID: 24120312
Base excision repair; DNA glycosylase; Mimivirus Nei2; void-filling residue
13.  Coordination of MYH DNA glycosylase and APE1 endonuclease activities via physical interactions 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.09.007.
MutY homologue (MYH) is a DNA glycosylase which excises adenine paired with the oxidative lesion 7,8-dihydro-8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG, or G°) during base excision repair (BER). Base excision by MYH results in an apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) site in the DNA where the DNA sugar-phosphate backbone remains intact. A key feature of MYH activity is its physical interaction and coordination with AP endonuclease I (APE1), which subsequently nicks DNA 5' to the AP site. Because AP sites are mutagenic and cytotoxic, they must be processed by APE1 immediately after the action of MYH glycosylase. Our recent reports show that the interdomain connector (IDC) of human MYH (hMYH) maintains interactions with hAPE1 and the human checkpoint clamp Rad9-Rad1-Hus1 (9-1-1) complex. In this study, we used NMR chemical shift perturbation experiments to determine hMYH-binding site on hAPE1. Chemical shift perturbations indicate that the hMYH IDC peptide binds to the DNA-binding site of hAPE1 and an additional site which is distal to the APE1 DNA-binding interface. In these two binding sites, N212 and Q137 of hAPE1 are key mediators of the MYH/APE1 interaction. Intriguingly, despite the fact that hHus1 and hAPE1 both interact with the MYH IDC, hHus1 does not compete with hAPE1 for binding to hMYH. Rather, hHus1 stabilizes the hMYH/hAPE1 complex both in vitro and in cells. This is consistent with a common theme in BER, namely that the assembly of protein-DNA complexes enhances repair by efficiently coordinating multiple enzymatic steps while simultaneously minimizing the release of harmful repair intermediates.
PMCID: PMC3857741  PMID: 24209961
Base excision repair; regulatory protein interactions; DNA glycosylase; AP endonuclease; checkpoint clamp
14.  Removal of N-6-methyladenine by the nucleotide excision repair pathway triggers the repair of mismatches in yeast gap-repair intermediates 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.09.006.
Gap-repair assays have been an important tool for studying the genetic control of homologous recombination in yeast. Sequence analysis of recombination products derived when a gapped plasmid is diverged relative to the chromosomal repair template additionally has been used to infer structures of strand-exchange intermediates. In the absence of the canonical mismatch repair pathway, mismatches present in these intermediates are expected to persist and segregate at the next round of DNA replication. In a mismatch repair defective (mlh1Δ) background, however, we have observed that recombination-generated mismatches are often corrected to generate gene conversion or restoration events. In the analyses reported here, the source of the aberrant mismatch removal during gap repair was examined. We find that most mismatch removal is linked to the methylation status of the plasmid used in the gap-repair assay. Whereas more than half of Dam-methylated plasmids had patches of gene conversion and/or restoration interspersed with unrepaired mismatches, mismatch removal was observed in less than 10% of products obtained when un-methylated plasmids were used in transformation experiments. The methylation-linked removal of mismatches in recombination intermediates was due specifically to the nucleotide excision repair pathway, with such mismatch removal being partially counteracted by glycosylases of the base excision repair pathway. These data demonstrate that nucleotide excision repair activity is not limited to bulky, helix-distorting DNA lesions, but also targets removal of very modest perturbations in DNA structure. In addition to its effects on mismatch removal, methylation reduced the overall gap-repair efficiency, but this reduction was not affected by the status of excision repair pathways. Finally, gel purification of DNA prior to transformation reduced gap-repair efficiency four-fold in a nucleotide excision repair-defective background, indicating that the cillateral introduction of UV damage can potentially compromise genetic interpretations.
PMCID: PMC3858172  PMID: 24120148
transformation; mismatch repair; recombination; methylation; nucleotide excision repair; base excision repair
15.  Roles of exonucleases and translesion synthesis DNA polymerases during mitotic gap repair in yeast 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.10.001.
Transformation-based gap-repair assays have long been used to model the repair of mitotic double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination in yeast. In the current study, we examine genetic requirements of two key processes involved in DSB repair: (1) the processive 5′-end resection that is required to efficiently engage a repair template and (2) the filling of resected ends by DNA polymerases. The specific gap-repair assay used allows repair events resolved as crossover versus noncrossover products to be distinguished, as well as the extent of heteroduplex DNA formed during recombination to be measured. To examine end resection, the efficiency and outcome of gap repair were monitored in the absence of the Exo1 exonuclease and the Sgs1 helicase. We found that either Exo1 or Sgs1 presence is sufficient to inhibit gap-repair efficiency over 10-fold, consistent with resection-mediated destruction of the introduced plasmid. In terms of DNA polymerase requirements for gap repair, we focused specifically on potential roles of the Pol ζ and Pol η translesion synthesis DNA polymerases. We found that both Pol ζ and Pol η are necessary for efficient gap repair and that each functions independently of the other. These polymerases may be either in the initiation of DNA synthesis from the an invading end, or in a gap-filling process that is required to complete recombination.
PMCID: PMC3870910  PMID: 24210827
Sgs1; Exo1; Pol ζ; Pol η; recombination
16.  Inhibition of Homologous Recombination with Vorinostat Synergistically Enhances Ganciclovir Cytotoxicity 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):1114-1121.
The nucleoside analog ganciclovir (GCV) elicits cytotoxicity in tumor cells via a novel mechanism in which drug incorporation into DNA produces minimal disruption of replication, but numerous DNA double strand breaks occur during the second S-phase after drug exposure. We propose that homologous recombination (HR), a major repair pathway for DNA double strand breaks, can prevent GCV-induced DNA damage, and that inhibition of HR will enhance cytotoxicity with GCV. Survival after GCV treatment in cells expressing a herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase was strongly dependent on HR (>14-fold decrease in IC50 in HR-deficient vs. HR-proficient CHO cells). In a homologous recombination reporter assay, the histone deacetylase inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA; vorinostat), decreased HR repair events up to 85%. SAHA plus GCV produced synergistic cytotoxicity in U251tk human glioblastoma cells. Elucidation of the synergistic mechanism demonstrated that SAHA produced a concentration-dependent decrease in the HR proteins Rad51 and CtIP. GCV alone produced numerous Rad51 foci, demonstrating activation of HR. However, the addition of SAHA blocked GCV-induced Rad51 foci formation completely and increased γH2AX, a marker of DNA double strand breaks. SAHA plus GCV also produced synergistic cytotoxicity in HR-proficient CHO cells, but the combination was antagonistic or additive in HR-deficient CHO cells. Collectively, these data demonstrate that HR promotes survival with GCV and compromise of HR by SAHA results in synergistic cytotoxicity, revealing a new mechanism for enhancing anticancer activity with GCV.
PMCID: PMC3922048  PMID: 24231389
Homologous recombination; Histone deacetylase inhibitor; DNA repair; DNA damage; anticancer drug
17.  DNA polymerases β and λ do not directly affect Ig variable region somatic hypermutation although their absence reduces the frequency of mutations 
DNA repair  2013;12(12):1087-1093.
During somatic hypermutation (SHM) of antibody variable (V) region genes, activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) converts dC to dU, and dUs can either be excised by uracil DNA glycosylase (UNG), by mismatch repair, or replicated over. If UNG excises the dU, the abasic site could be cleaved by AP-endonuclease (APE), introducing the single-strand DNA breaks (SSBs) required for generating mutations at A:T bp, which are known to depend upon mismatch repair and DNA Pol η. DNA Pol β or λ could instead repair the lesion correctly. To assess the involvement of Pols β and λ in SHM of antibody genes, we analyzed mutations in the VDJh4 3′ flanking region in Peyer’s patch germinal center (GC) B cells from polβ−/−polλ−/−, polλ−/−, and polβ−/− mice. We find that deficiency of either or both polymerases results in a modest but significant decrease in V region SHM, with Pol β having a greater effect, but there is no effect on mutation specificity, suggesting they have no direct role in SHM. Instead, the effect on SHM appears to be due to a role for these enzymes in GC B cell proliferation or viability. The results suggest that the BER pathway is not important during V region SHM for generating mutations at A:T bp. Furthermore, this implies that most of the SSBs required for Pol η to enter and create A:T mutations are likely generated during replication instead. These results contrast with the inhibitory effect of Pol β on mutations at the Ig Sμ locus, Sμ DSBs and class switch recombination (CSR) reported previously. We show here that B cells deficient in Pol λ or both Pol β and λ proliferate normally in culture and undergo slightly elevated CSR, as shown previously for Pol β-deficient B cells.
PMCID: PMC4000569  PMID: 24084171
Activation induced cytidine deaminase; Base excision repair; Mismatch repair; A:T mutations
18.  Identification and characterization of MUS81 point mutations that abolish interaction with the SLX4 scaffold protein 
DNA Repair  2014;24:131-137.
MUS81-EME1 is a conserved structure-selective endonuclease with a preference for branched DNA substrates in vitro that correspond to intermediates of DNA repair. Cells lacking MUS81 or EME1 show defects in the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICL) resulting in hypersensitivity to agents such as mitomycin C. In metazoans, a proportion of cellular MUS81-EME1 binds the SLX4 scaffold protein, which is itself instrumental for ICL repair. It was previously reported that mutations in SLX4 that abolished interaction with MUS81 affected ICL repair in human cells but not in murine cells. In this study we looked the other way around by pinpointing amino acid residues in MUS81 that when mutated abolish the interaction with SLX4. These mutations fully rescued the mitomycin C hypersensitivity of MUS81 knockout murine cells, but they were unable to rescue the sensitivity of two different human cell lines defective in MUS81. These data support an SLX4-dependent role for MUS81 in the repair, but not the induction of ICL-induced double-strand breaks. This study sheds light on the extent to which MUS81 function in ICL repair requires interaction with SLX4.
PMCID: PMC4251979  PMID: 25224045
SLX4; MUS81; Nuclease; Scaffold; Inter-strand crosslink
19.  ATMIN is required for the ATM-mediated signaling and recruitment of 53BP1 to DNA damage sites upon replication stress 
DNA Repair  2014;24:122-130.
Unresolved replication intermediates can block the progression of replication forks and become converted into DNA lesions, hence exacerbating genomic instability. The p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1) forms nuclear bodies at sites of unrepaired DNA lesions to shield these regions against erosion, in a manner dependent on the DNA damage kinase ATM. The molecular mechanism by which ATM is activated upon replicative stress to localize the 53BP1 protection complex is unknown. Here we show that the ATM-INteracting protein ATMIN (also known as ASCIZ) is partially required for 53BP1 localization upon replicative stress. Additionally, we demonstrate that ATM activation is impaired in cells lacking ATMIN and we define that ATMIN is required for initiating ATM signaling following replicative stress. Furthermore, loss of ATMIN leads to chromosomal segregation defects. Together these data reveal that chromatin integrity depends on ATMIN upon exposure to replication-induced stress.
PMCID: PMC4251980  PMID: 25262557
Replication stress; 53BP1; ATM; ATMIN; MEFs, mouse embryonic fibroblasts; Aph, aphidicolin; IR, ionizing radiation; Gy, Gray; MMS, methyl methanesulfonate; HU, hydroxyurea; NCS, neocarzinostatin; DAPI, diamidino-2-phenylindole; HR, homologous recombination; NHEJ, non-homologous end-joining; CFS, chromosomal fragile sites
20.  Single-molecule views of MutS on mismatched DNA 
DNA repair  2014;20:82-93.
Base-pair mismatches that occur during DNA replication or recombination can reduce genetic stability or conversely increase genetic diversity. The genetics and biophysical mechanism of mismatch repair (MMR) has been extensively studied since its discovery nearly 50 years ago. MMR is a strand-specific excision-resynthesis reaction that is initiated by MutS homolog (MSH) binding to the mismatched nucleotides. The MSH mismatch-binding signal is then transmitted to the immediate downstream MutL homolog (MLH/PMS) MMR components and ultimately to a distant strand scission site where excision begins. The mechanism of signal transmission has been controversial for decades. We have utilized single molecule Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (smFRET), Fluorescence Tracking (smFT) and Polarization Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (smP-TIRF) to examine the interactions and dynamic behaviors of single Thermus aquaticus MutS (TaqMutS) particles on mismatched DNA. We determined that Taq-MutS forms an incipient clamp to search for a mismatch in ∼1 s intervals by 1-dimensional (1D) thermal fluctuation-driven rotational diffusion while in continuous contact with the helical duplex DNA. When MutS encounters a mismatch it lingers for ∼3 s to exchange bound ADP for ATP (ADP → ATP exchange). ATP binding by TaqMutS induces an extremely stable clamp conformation (∼10 min) that slides off the mismatch and moves along the adjacent duplex DNA driven simply by 1D thermal diffusion. The ATP-bound sliding clamps rotate freely while in discontinuous contact with the DNA. The visualization of a train of MSH proteins suggests that dissociation of ATP-bound sliding clamps from the mismatch permits multiple mismatch-dependent loading events. These direct observations have provided critical clues into understanding the molecular mechanism of MSH proteins during MMR.
PMCID: PMC4245035  PMID: 24629484
DNA mismatch repair; MutS; Single-molecule polarization; Single-molecule FRET; Single particle tracking; Diffusion mechanism
21.  Blinded by the UV light: How the focus on transcription-coupled NER has distracted from understanding the mechanisms of Cockayne syndrome neurologic disease 
DNA repair  2013;12(8):656-671.
Cockayne syndrome (CS) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder, with growth abnormalities, progeriod features, and sun sensitivity. CS is typically considered to be a DNA repair disorder, since cells from CS patients have a defect in transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair (TC-NER). However, cells from UV-sensitive syndrome patients also lack TC-NER, but these patients do not suffer from the neurologic and other abnormalities that CS patients do. Also, the neurologic abnormalities that affect CS patients (CS neurologic disease) are qualitatively different from those seen in NER-deficient XP patients. Therefore, the TC-NER defect explains the sun sensitive phenotype common to both CS and UVsS, but cannot explain CS neurologic disease. However, as CS neurologic disease is of much greater clinical significance than the sun sensitivity, there is a pressing need to understand its molecular basis. While there is evidence for defective repair of oxidative DNA damage and mitochondrial abnormalities in CS cells, here I propose that the defects in transcription by both RNA polymerases I and II that have been documented in CS cells provide a better explanation for many of the severe growth and neurodevelopmental defects in CS patients than defective DNA repair. The implications of these ideas for interpreting results from mouse models of CS, and for the development of treatments and therapies for CS patients are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4240003  PMID: 23683874
22.  Contribution of DNA unwrapping from histone octamers to the repair of oxidatively damaged DNA in nucleosomes 
DNA repair  2013;12(11):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.08.010.
Reactive oxygen species generate ~20,000 oxidative lesions in the DNA of every cell, every day. Most of these lesions are located within nucleosomes, which package DNA in chromatin and impede base excision repair (BER). We demonstrated previously that periodic, spontaneous partial unwrapping of DNA from the underlying histone octamer enables BER enzymes to bind to oxidative lesions that would otherwise be sterically inaccessible. In the present study, we asked if these periodic DNA unwrapping events are frequent enough to account for the estimated rates of BER in vivo. We measured rates of excision of oxidative lesions from sites in nucleosomes that are accessible only during unwrapping episodes. Using reaction conditions appropriate for presteady-state kinetic analyses, we derived lesion exposure rates for both 601 and 5S rDNA-based nucleosomes. Although DNA unwrapping-mediated exposure of a lesion ~16 NT from the nucleosome edge occurred ~7–8 times per minute, exposure rates fell dramatically for lesions located 10 or more NT further in from the nucleosome edge. The rates likely are too low to account for observed rates of BER in cells. Thus, chromatin remodeling, either BER-specific or that associated with transcription, replication, or other DNA repair processes, probably contributes to efficient BER in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3877670  PMID: 24051050
Base excision repair; Human NTH1 kinetics; Chromatin; Nucleosome dynamics; DNA unwrapping kinetics
23.  Xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group C protein (XPC) serves as a general sensor of damaged DNA 
DNA repair  2013;12(11):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.08.013.
The xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group C protein (XPC) serves as the primary initiating factor in the global genome nucleotide excision repair pathway (GG-NER). Recent reports suggest XPC also stimulates repair of oxidative lesions by base excision repair. However, whether XPC distinguishes among various types of DNA lesions remains unclear. Although the DNA binding properties of XPC have been studied by several groups, there is a lack of consensus over whether XPC discriminates between DNA damaged by lesions associated with NER activity versus those that are not. In this study we report a high-throughput fluorescence anisotropy assay used to measure the DNA binding affinity of XPC for a panel of DNA substrates containing a range of chemical lesions in a common sequence. Our results demonstrate that while XPC displays a preference for binding damaged DNA, the identity of the lesion has little effect on the binding affinity of XPC. Moreover, XPC was equally capable of binding to DNA substrates containing lesions not repaired by GG-NER. Our results support an indirect read-out model for sensing the presence of lesions by human XPC and suggest XPC may act as a general sensor of damaged DNA capable of recognizing DNA containing lesions not repaired by NER.
PMCID: PMC3825762  PMID: 24051049
XPC; Nucleotide excision repair; base excision repair; lesion recognition; DNA binding; high-throughput assay
24.  The choice of nucleotide inserted opposite abasic sites formed within chromosomal DNA reveals the polymerase activities participating in translesion DNA synthesis 
DNA repair  2013;12(11):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.07.008.
Abasic sites in genomic DNA can be a significant source of mutagenesis in biological systems, including human cancers. Such mutagenesis requires translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) bypass of the abasic site by specialized DNA polymerases. The abasic site bypass specificity of TLS proteins had been studied by multiple means in vivo and in vitro, although the generality of the conclusions reached have been uncertain. Here, we introduce a set of yeast reporter strains for investigating the in vivo specificity of abasic site bypass at numerous random positions within chromosomal DNA. When shifted to 37°C, these strains underwent telomere uncapping and resection that exposed reporter genes within a long 3′ ssDNA overhang. Human APOBEC3G cytosine deaminase was expressed to create uracils in ssDNA, which were excised by uracil-DNA N-glycosylase. During repair synthesis, error-prone TLS bypassed the resulting abasic sites. Because of APOBEC3G’s strict motif specificity and the restriction of abasic site formation to only one DNA strand, this system provides complete information about the location of abasic sites that led to mutations. We recapitulated previous findings on the roles of REV1 and REV3. Further, we found that sequence context can strongly influence the relative frequency of A or C insertion. We also found that deletion of Pol32, a non-essential common subunit of Pols δ and ζ, resulted in residual low-frequency C insertion dependent on Rev1 catalysis. We summarize our results in a detailed model of the interplay between TLS components leading to error-prone bypass of abasic sites. Our results underscore the utility of this system for studying TLS bypass of many types of lesions within genomic DNA.
PMCID: PMC3825800  PMID: 23988736
abasic site; translesion DNA synthesis; APOBEC; single-strand DNA; deoxycytidyltransferase
25.  Dynamics of Enzymatic Interactions During Short Flap Human Okazaki Fragment Processing by Two forms of Human DNA Polymerase δ 
DNA repair  2013;12(11):10.1016/j.dnarep.2013.08.008.
Lagging strand DNA replication requires the concerted actions of DNA polymerase δ, Fen1 and DNA ligase I for the removal of the RNA/DNA primers before ligation of Okazaki fragments. To better understand this process in human cells, we have reconstituted Okazaki fragment processing by the short flap pathway in vitro with purified human proteins and oligonucleotide substrates. We systematically characterized the key events in Okazaki fragment processing: the strand displacement, Pol δ/Fen1 combined reactions for removal of the RNA/DNA primer, and the complete reaction with DNA ligase I. Two forms of human DNA polymerase δ were studied: Pol δ4 and Pol δ3, which represent the heterotetramer and the heterotrimer lacking the p12 subunit, respectively. Pol δ3 exhibits very limited strand displacement activity in contrast to Pol δ4, and stalls on encounter with a 5’-blocking oligonucleotide. Pol δ4 and Pol δ3 exhibit different characteristics in the Pol δ/Fen1 reactions. While Pol δ3 produces predominantly 1 and 2 nt cleavage products irrespective of Fen1 concentrations, Pol δ4 produces cleavage fragments of 1–10 nts at low Fen1 concentrations. Pol δ3 and Pol δ4 exhibit comparable formation of ligated products in the complete system. While both are capable of Okazaki fragment processing in vitro, Pol δ3 exhibits ideal characteristics for a role in Okazaki fragment processing. Pol δ3 readily idles and in combination with Fen1 produces primarily 1 nt cleavage products, so that nick translation predominates in the removal of the blocking strand, avoiding the production of longer flaps that require additional processing. These studies represent the first analysis of the two forms of human Pol δ in Okazaki fragment processing. The findings provide evidence for the novel concept that Pol δ3 has a role in lagging strand synthesis, and that both forms of Pol δ may participate in DNA replication in higher eukaryotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3825817  PMID: 24035200
DNA polymerase δ; DNA replication; Okazaki fragment; lagging strand; Fen1, flap endonuclease 1

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