DNA polymerase β (Pol β), a key enzyme in the DNA base excision repair (BER) pathway, is pivotal in maintaining the integrity and stability of genomes. One Pol β mutation that has been identified in tumors, R137Q (arginine to glutamine substitution), has been shown to lower polymerase activity, and impair its DNA repair capacity. However, the exact functional deficiency associated with this polymorphism in living organisms is still unknown. Here, we constructed Pol β R137Q knock-in mice, and found that homozygous knock-in mouse embryos were typically small in size and had a high mortality rate (21%). These embryonic abnormalities were caused by slow cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. In R137Q knock-in mouse embryos, the BER efficiency was severely impaired, which subsequently resulted in double-strand breaks (DSBs) and chromosomal aberrations. Furthermore, R137Q mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) were more sensitive to DNA-damaging reagents, such as methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) and H2O2. They displayed a higher percentage of DSBs, and were more likely to undergo apoptosis. Our results indicate that R137 is a key amino acid site that is essential for proper Pol β functioning in maintaining genomic stability and embryo development.
Cancer cells frequently up-regulate DNA replication and repair proteins such as the multifunctional DNA2 nuclease/helicase, counteracting DNA damage due to replication stress and promoting survival. Therefore, we hypothesized that blocking both DNA replication and repair by inhibiting the bifunctional DNA2 could be a potent strategy to sensitize cancer cells to stresses from radiation or chemotherapeutic agents. We show that homozygous deletion of DNA2 sensitizes cells to ionizing radiation and camptothecin (CPT). Using a virtual high throughput screen, we identify 4-hydroxy-8-nitroquinoline-3-carboxylic acid (C5) as an effective and selective inhibitor of DNA2. Mutagenesis and biochemical analysis define the C5 binding pocket at a DNA-binding motif that is shared by the nuclease and helicase activities, consistent with structural studies that suggest that DNA binding to the helicase domain is necessary for nuclease activity. C5 targets the known functions of DNA2 in vivo: C5 inhibits resection at stalled forks as well as reducing recombination. C5 is an even more potent inhibitor of restart of stalled DNA replication forks and over-resection of nascent DNA in cells defective in replication fork protection, including BRCA2 and BOD1L. C5 sensitizes cells to CPT and synergizes with PARP inhibitors.
•C5 binds to the helicase domain of DNA2 and inhibits its nuclease, ATPase, and helicase activities.•C5 inhibits DNA end resection for DNA double strand break repair and restart of stalled replication forks.•C5 suppresses over-resection of nascent DNA in cells defective in fork protection.•C5 sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents.
Most chemotherapeutics introduce DNA lesions that block DNA replication to kill cancer cells. Upregulation of DNA repair proteins in cancer cells is a major reason for human cancer to become resistant to chemotherapeutics. DNA repair proteins such as DNA2 nuclease/helicase have long been proposed as targets for sensitization of cancer cells to chemotherapy. We identify a selective DNA2 inhibitor (C5) and demonstrate that DNA2 inhibition by C5 suppresses cancer cells to rescue stalled replication forks. Consequently, it sensitizes cancer cells to replication fork stalling agents such as camptothecin. Thus, C5 is a promising lead compound for developing new anticancer drugs.
BLM, Bloom Syndrome; CPT, camptothecin; DNA2, DNA2 nuclease/helicase; DSB, double-strand break; EMSA, electrophoretic mobility shift assay; EXO1, exonuclesae 1; FA, Fanconi anemia; FEN1, flap endonuclease 1; HDR, homology direct repair; HTS, high throughput screening; MES, mouse embryonic stem; MSFC, Multiple Stage Full Coverage; NCI DTP, National Cancer Institute Developmental Therapeutics Program; RMSD, root mean square deviation; RT, radiotherapy; SSA, single-strand annealing; SSB, single-strand break; WRN, Werner Syndrome; DNA2 inhibitor; Nuclease; Helicase; DNA binding; DNA end resection; DNA replicatoin fork protection; Chemotherapy; Sensitizer; Camptothecin; PARP inhibitor; Cancer
Polymorphisms and somatic mutations in Flap Endonuclease 1 (FEN1), an essential enzyme involved in DNA replication and repair, can lead to functional deficiencies of the FEN1 protein and a predisposition to cancer. We identified a FEN1 germline mutation which changed residue E359 to K in a patient whose family had a history of breast cancer. We determined that the E359K mutation, which is in the protein-protein domain of FEN1, abolished the interaction of FEN1 with Werner Syndrome protein (WRN), an interaction which is critical for resolving stalled DNA replication forks. Furthermore, although the flap endonuclease activity of FEN1 E359K was unaffected, it failed to resolve bubble structures, which requires the FEN1 gap dependent endonuclease (GEN) activity. To determine the etiological significance of E359K, we established a mouse model containing this mutation. E359K mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) were more sensitive to DNA cross-linking agents that cause replication forks to stall. Cytological analysis suggested that the FEN1-WRN interaction was also required to for telomere stability; mutant cell lines had fragile telomeres, increased numbers of spontaneous chromosomal anomalies and higher frequencies of transformation. Moreover, the incidence of cancer was significantly higher in mice homozygous for FEN1 E359K than in wild-type mice, suggesting that the FEN1 E359K mutation is oncogenic.
A critical observation in sporadic cancers is that not all individuals are equally prone to developing cancer following exposure to a given environmental carcinogen. Epidemiological studies have suggested that the difference in the timing of cancer onset in response to exogenous DNA damage is likely attributable to genetic variations, such as those associated with base excision repair genes. To test this long-standing hypothesis and elucidate how a genetic variation in the base excision repair gene flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) results in susceptibility to environment insults and causes cancer, we established a mutant mouse model carrying a point mutation (E160D) in Fen1. We demonstrate that the E160D mutation impairs the ability of FEN1 to process DNA intermediate structures in long-patch base excision repair using nuclear extracts or reconstituted purified base excision repair proteins. E160D cells were more sensitive to the base damaging agents methylnitrosourea and hydrogen peroxide, leading to DNA strand breaks, chromosomal breakage, and chromosome instabilities in response these DNA insults. We further show that E160D mice are significantly more susceptible to exposure to methylnitrosourea and develop lung adenocarcinoma. Thus, our current study demonstrates that a subtle genetic variation (E160D) in base excision repair genes (FEN1) may cause a functional deficiency in repairing base damage, such that individuals carrying the mutation or similar mutations are predisposed to chemical-induced cancer development.
FEN1; Long-patch base excision repair; methylnitrosourea; tetraploidy; aneuploidy; cancer
Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1), a member of the Rad2 nuclease family, possesses 5’ flap endonuclease (FEN), 5’ exonuclease (EXO), and gap-endonuclease (GEN) activities. The multiple, structure-specific nuclease activities of FEN1 allow it to process different intermediate DNA structures during DNA replication and repair. We previously identified a group of FEN1 mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms that impair FEN1’s EXO and GEN activities in human cancer patients. We also established a mouse model carrying the E160D FEN1 mutation, which mimics the mutations seen in humans. FEN1 mutant mice developed spontaneous lung cancer at high frequency at their late life stages. An important unanswered question is whether individuals carrying such FEN1 mutation are more susceptible to tobacco smoke and have an earlier onset of lung cancer. Here, we report our study on E160D mutant mice exposed to benzo[α]pyrene (B[α]P), a major DNA damaging compound found in tobacco smoke. We demonstrate that FEN1 employs its GEN activity to cleave DNA bubble substrates with BP-induced lesions, but the E160D FEN1 mutation abolishes such activity. As a consequence, Mouse cells carrying the E160D mutation display defects in the repair of B[α]P adducts and accumulate DNA double-stranded breaks and chromosomal aberrations upon treatments with B[α]P. Furthermore, more E160D mice than WT mice have an early onset of B[α]P-induced lung adenocarcinoma. All together, our current study suggests that individuals carrying the GEN-deficient FEN1 mutations have high risk to develop lung cancer upon exposure to B[α]P-containing agents such as tobacco smoke.
Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1); Benzo[α]pyrene (B[α]P); Lung cancer; Double-stranded breaks (DSBs); Near-tetraploid aneuploidy
Mutations in genes involved in DNA replication such as FEN1, can cause single-stranded DNA breaks (SSBs) and subsequent collapse of DNA replication forks leading to DNA replication stresses. Persistent replication stresses normally induce p53-mediated senescence or apoptosis to prevent tumor progression. It is unclear how some mutant cells can overcome persistent replication stresses and bypass the p53-mediated pathways to develop malignancy. Here we show that formation of polyploidy, which is often observed in human cancers, leads to overexpression of BRCA1, p19arf and other DNA repair genes in FEN1 mutant cells. This overexpression triggers SSB repair and non-homologous end joining pathways to increase DNA repair activity, but at the cost of frequent chromosomal translocations. Meanwhile, DNA methylation silences p53 target genes, to bypass the p53-mediated senescence and apoptosis. These molecular changes rewire DNA damage response and repair gene networks in polyploid tumor cells, enabling them to escape replication stress-induced senescence barriers.
DNA replication and repair are critical processes for all living organisms to ensure faithful duplication and transmission of genetic information. Flap endonuclease 1 (Fen1), a structure-specific nuclease, plays an important role in multiple DNA metabolic pathways and maintenance of genome stability. Human FEN1 mutations that impair its exonuclease activity have been linked to cancer development. FEN1 interacts with multiple proteins, including proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), to form various functional complexes. Interactions with these proteins are considered to be the key molecular mechanisms mediating FEN1's key biological functions. The current challenge is to experimentally demonstrate the biological consequence of a specific interaction without compromising other functions of a desired protein. To address this issue, we established a mutant mouse model harboring a FEN1 point mutation (F343A/F344A, FFAA), which specifically abolishes the FEN1/PCNA interaction. We show that the FFAA mutation causes defects in RNA primer removal and long-patch base excision repair, even in the heterozygous state, resulting in numerous DNA breaks. These breaks activate the G2/M checkpoint protein, Chk1, and induce near-tetraploid aneuploidy, commonly observed in human cancer, consequently elevating the transformation frequency. Consistent with this, inhibition of aneuploidy formation by a Chk1 inhibitor significantly suppressed the cellular transformation. WT/FFAA FEN1 mutant mice develop aneuploidy-associated cancer at a high frequency. Thus, this study establishes an exemplary case for investigating the biological significance of protein-protein interactions by knock-in of a point mutation rather than knock-out of a whole gene.
FEN1; PCNA; Okazaki fragment maturation; long patch base excision repair; tetraploidy; aneuploidy; cancer
A detailed study of amidine synthesis from N-allyl-N-sulfonyl ynamides is described here. Mechanistically, this is a fascinating reaction consisting of diverging pathways that could lead to deallylation or allyl transfer depending upon the oxidation state of palladium catalysts, the nucleophilicity of amines, and the nature of the ligands. It essentially constitutes a Pd(0)-catalyzed aza-Claisen rearrangement of N-allyl ynamides, which can also be accomplished thermally. An observation of N-to-C 1,3-sulfonyl shift was made when examining these aza-Claisen rearrangements thermally. This represents a useful approach to nitrile synthesis. While attempts to render this 1,3-sulfonyl shift stereoselective failed, we uncovered another set of tandem sigmatropic rearrangements, leading to vinyl imidate formation. Collectively, this work showcases the rich array of chemistry one can discover using these ynamides.
An enantioselective and diastereoselective aza-[3 + 3] annulation of pyrrolidine-based exo-cyclic vinylogous amides and urethanes with chiral vinyl iminium salts is described. This asymmetric annulation manifold is possible because of an unexpected regiochemical reversal whereby head-to-tail annulations dominated over the predicted head-to-head. It should find prevalent synthetic applications in the enantioselective synthesis of indolizidines.
DNA replication and repair are critical processes for all living organisms to ensure faithful duplication and transmission of genetic information. Flap endonuclease 1 (Fen1), a structure-specific nuclease, plays an important role in multiple DNA metabolic pathways and maintenance of genome stability. Human FEN1 mutations that impair its exonuclease activity have been linked to cancer development. FEN1 interacts with multiple proteins, including proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), to form various functional complexes. Interactions with these proteins are considered key molecular mechanisms mediating FEN1’s key biological functions. The current challenge is to experimentally demonstrate the biological consequence of a specific interaction without compromising other functions of a desired protein. To address this issue, we established a mutant mouse model harboring a FEN1 point mutation (F343A/F344A, FFAA), which specifically abolishes the FEN1/PCNA interaction. We show that the FFAA mutation causes defects in RNA primer removal and long-patch base excision repair, even in the heterozygous state, resulting in numerous DNA breaks. These breaks activate the G2/M checkpoint protein, Chk1, and induce near-tetraploid aneuploidy, commonly observed in human cancer, consequently elevating the transformation frequency. Consistent with this, inhibition of aneuploidy formation by a Chk1 inhibitor significantly suppressed the cellular transformation. WT/FFAA FEN1 mutant mice develop aneuploidy-associated cancer at a high frequency. Thus, this study establishes an exemplary case for investigating the biological significance of protein-protein interactions by knock in of a point mutation rather than knock out of a whole gene.
FEN1; PCNA; Okazaki fragment maturation; long patch base excision repair; tetraploidy; aneuploidy; cancer
GP88 (PC-Cell Derived Growth Factor, progranulin) is a glycoprotein overexpressed in breast tumors and involved in their proliferation and survival. Since GP88 is secreted, an exploratory study was established to compare serum GP88 level between breast cancer patients (BC) and healthy volunteers (HV).
An IRB approved prospective study enrolled 189 stage 1–4 BC patients and 18 HV. GP88 serum concentration was determined by immunoassay.
Serum GP88 level was 28.7 + 5.8 ng/ml in HV and increased to 40.7 + 16.0 ng/ml (P = 0.007) for stage 1–3 and 45.3 + 23.3 ng/ml (P = 0.0007) for stage 4 BC patients. There was no correlation between the GP88 level and BC characteristics such as age, race, tumor grade, ER, PR and HER-2 expression.
These data suggest that serial testing of serum GP88 levels may have value as a circulating biomarker for detection, monitoring and follow up of BC.
progranulin; GP88; breast cancer; biomarker
Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1), a structure-specific endo- and exo- nuclease, exhibits multiple functions that determine essential biological processes, such as cell proliferation and cell death. As such, the enzyme must be precisely regulated in order to execute each of its functions with the right timing and in a specific subcellular location. Here, we report that FEN1 is methylated at arginine residues, primarily at R192. The methylation suppresses FEN1 phosphorylation at S187. The methylated form, but not the phosphorylated form of FEN1, strongly interacts with Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA), ensuring the on and off timing of its reaction. Mutations of FEN1 disrupting arginine methylation and PCNA interaction result in unscheduled phosphorylation and cause failure of its localization to DNA replication or repair foci. This consequently leads to a defect in Okazaki fragment maturation, a delay of cell cycle progression, impairment of DNA repair, and high frequency of genome-wide mutations.
Flap endonuclease1 (FEN1) is a structure-specific nuclease best known for its critical roles in Okazaki fragment maturation, DNA repair and apoptosis-induced DNA fragmentation. Functional deficiencies in FEN1, in the forms of somatic mutations and polymorphisms, have recently been shown to lead to autoimmunity, chronic inflammation, and predisposition to and progression of cancer. In order to explore how FEN1 contributes to cancer progression, we examined FEN1 expression using 241 matched pairs of cancer and corresponding normal tissues on a gene expression profiling array and validated differential expression by quantitative real-time PCR, and immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, we defined the minimum promoter of human FEN1 and examined the methylation statuses of the 5' region of the gene in paired breast cancer tissues. We demonstrate that FEN1 is significantly up-regulated in multiple cancers and the aberrant expression of FEN1 is associated with hypomethylation of the CpG island within the FEN1 promoter in tumor cells. The over-expression and promoter hypomethylation of FEN1 may serve as biomarkers for monitoring the progression of cancers.
Flap endonuclease 1; over-expression; promoter; hypomethylation
DNA2, a helicase/nuclease family member, plays versatile roles in processing DNA intermediates during DNA replication and repair. Yeast Dna2 (yDna2) is essential in RNA primer removal during nuclear DNA replication and is important in repairing UV damage, base damage, and double-strand breaks. Our data demonstrate that, surprisingly, human DNA2 (hDNA2) does not localize to nuclei, as it lacks a nuclear localization signal equivalent to that present in yDna2. Instead, hDNA2 migrates to the mitochondria, interacts with mitochondrial DNA polymerase γ, and significantly stimulates polymerase activity. We further demonstrate that hDNA2 and flap endonuclease 1 synergistically process intermediate 5’ flap structures occurring in DNA replication and long-patch base excision repair (LP-BER) in mitochondria. Depletion of hDNA2 from a mitochondrial extract reduces its efficiency in RNA primer removal and LP-BER. Taken together, our studies illustrate an evolutionarily diversified role of hDNA2 in mitochondrial DNA replication and repair in a mammalian system.
DNA polymerase β (Pol β) is a key enzyme in DNA base excision repair, and an important factor for maintaining genome integrity and stability. More than 30% of human tumors characterized to date express DNA Pol β variants, many of which result from a single nucleotide residue substitution. However, in most cases, their precise functional deficiency and relationship to cancer susceptibility are still unknown. In the current work, we show that a polymorphism encoding an arginine to glutamine substitution, R137Q, has lower polymerase activity. The substitution also affects the interaction between Pol β and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). These defects impair the DNA repair capacity of Pol β in reconstitution assays, as well as in cellular extracts. Expression of wild-type Pol β in pol β−/− mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells restored cellular resistance to DNA damaging reagents such as methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) and N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU), while expression of R137Q in pol β−/− MEF cells failed to do so. These data indicate that polymorphisms in base excision repair genes may contribute to the onset and development of cancers.
Despite the wealth of information available on the biochemical functions and our recent findings of its roles in genome stability and cancer avoidance of the structure-specific flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1), its cellular compartmentalization and dynamics corresponding to its involvement in various DNA metabolic pathways are not yet elucidated. Several years ago, we demonstrated that FEN1 migrates into the nucleus in response to DNA damage and under certain cell cycle conditions. In the current paper, we found that FEN1 is superaccumulated in the nucleolus and plays a role in the resolution of stalled DNA replication forks formed at the sites of natural replication fork barriers. In response to UV irradiation and upon phosphorylation, FEN1 migrates to nuclear plasma to participate in the resolution of UV cross-links on DNA, most likely employing its concerted action of exonuclease and gap-dependent endonuclease activities. Based on yeast complementation experiments, the mutation of Ser187Asp, mimicking constant phosphorylation, excludes FEN1 from nucleolar accumulation. The replacement of Ser187 by Ala, eliminating the only phosphorylation site, retains FEN1 in nucleoli. Both of the mutations cause UV sensitivity, impair cellular UV damage repair capacity, and decline overall cellular survivorship.
The interaction between flap endonuclease 1 (FEN-1) and proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) is critical for faithful and efficient Okazaki fragment maturation. In a living cell, this interaction is probably important for PCNA to load FEN-1 to the replication fork, to coordinate the sequential functions of FEN-1 and other enzymes, and to stimulate its enzyme activity. The FEN-1/PCNA interaction is mediated by the motif 337QGRLDDFFK345 of FEN-1, such that an F343AF344A (FFAA) mutant cannot bind to PCNA but retains its nuclease activities. To determine the physiological roles of the FEN-1/PCNA interaction in a mammalian system, we knocked the FFAA Fen1 mutation into the Fen1 gene locus of mice. FFAA/FFAA mouse embryo fibroblasts underwent DNA replication and division at a slower pace, and FFAA/FFAA mutant embryos displayed significant defects in growth and development, particularly in the lung and blood systems. All newborn FFAA mutant pups died at birth, likely due to pulmonary hypoplasia and pancytopenia. Collectively, our data demonstrate the importance of the FEN-1/PCNA complex in DNA replication and in the embryonic development of mice.