In eukaryotic cells, there are two sub-pathways of nucleotide excision repair (NER), the global genome (gg) NER and the transcription-coupled repair (TCR). TCR can preferentially remove the bulky DNA lesions located at the transcribed strand of a transcriptional active gene more rapidly than those at the untranscribed strand or overall genomic DNA. This strand-specific repair in a suitable restriction fragment is usually determined by alkaline gel electrophoresis followed by Southern blotting transfer and hybridization with an indirect end-labeled single-stranded probe. Here we describe a new method of TCR assay based on strand-specific-PCR (SS-PCR). Using this method, we have investigated the role of DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), a member of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related protein kinases (PIKK) family, in the TCR pathway of UV-induced DNA damage.
Although depletion of DNA-PKcs sensitized HeLa cells to UV radiation, it did not affect the ggNER efficiency of UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) damage. We postulated that DNA-PKcs may involve in the TCR process. To test this hypothesis, we have firstly developed a novel method of TCR assay based on the strand-specific PCR technology with a set of smart primers, which allows the strand-specific amplification of a restricted gene fragment of UV radiation-damaged genomic DNA in mammalian cells. Using this new method, we confirmed that siRNA-mediated downregulation of Cockayne syndrome B resulted in a deficiency of TCR of the UV-damaged dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) gene. In addition, DMSO-induced silencing of the c-myc gene led to a decreased TCR efficiency of UV radiation-damaged c-myc gene in HL60 cells. On the basis of the above methodology verification, we found that the depletion of DNA-PKcs mediated by siRNA significantly decreased the TCR capacity of repairing the UV-induced CPDs damage in DHFR gene in HeLa cells, indicating that DNA-PKcs may also be involved in the TCR pathway of DNA damage repair. By means of immunoprecipitation and MALDI-TOF-Mass spectrometric analysis, we have revealed the interaction of DNA-PKcs and cyclin T2, which is a subunit of the human transcription elongation factor (P-TEFb). While the P-TEFb complex can phosphorylate the serine 2 of the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA polymerase II and promote transcription elongation.
A new method of TCR assay was developed based the strand-specific-PCR (SS-PCR). Our data suggest that DNA-PKcs plays a role in the TCR pathway of UV-damaged DNA. One possible mechanistic hypothesis is that DNA-PKcs may function through associating with CyclinT2/CDK9 (P-TEFb) to modulate the activity of RNA Pol II, which has already been identified as a key molecule recognizing and initializing TCR.