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1.  Mapping of protein-protein interactions within the DNA-dependent protein kinase complex. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(17):3494-3502.
In mammalian cells, the Ku and DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) proteins are required for the correct and efficient repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Ku comprises two tightly-associated subunits of approximately 69 and approximately 83 kDa, which are termed Ku70 and Ku80 (or Ku86), respectively. Previously, a number of regions of both Ku subunits have been demonstrated to be involved in their interaction, but the molecular mechanism of this interaction remains unknown. We have identified a region in Ku70 (amino acid residues 449-578) and a region in Ku80 (residues 439-592) that participate in Ku subunit interaction. Sequence analysis reveals that these interaction regions share sequence homology and suggests that the Ku subunits are structurally related. On binding to a DNA double-strand break, Ku is able to interact with DNA-PKcs, but how this interaction is mediated has not been defined. We show that the extreme C-terminus of Ku80, specifically the final 12 amino acid residues, mediates a highly specific interaction with DNA-PKcs. Strikingly, these residues appear to be conserved only in Ku80 sequences from vertebrate organisms. These data suggest that Ku has evolved to become part of the DNA-PK holo-enzyme by acquisition of a protein-protein interaction motif at the C-terminus of Ku80.
PMCID: PMC148593  PMID: 10446239
2.  Molecular and biochemical characterisation of DNA-dependent protein kinase-defective rodent mutant irs-20. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(8):1965-1973.
The catalytic subunit of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs) is a member of a sub-family of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinases termed PIK-related kinases. A distinguishing feature of this sub-family is the presence of a conserved C-terminal region downstream of a PI 3-kinase domain. Mutants defective in DNA-PKcs are sensitive to ionising radiation and are unable to carry out V(D)J recombination. Irs-20 is a DNA-PKcs-defective cell line with milder gamma-ray sensitivity than two previously characterised mutants, V-3 and mouse scid cells. Here we show that the DNA-PKcs protein from irs-20 cells can bind to DNA but is unable to function as a protein kinase. To verify the defect in irs-20 cells and provide insight into the function and expression of DNA-PKcs in double-strand break repair and V(D)J recombination we introduced YACs encoding human and mouse DNA-PKcs into defective mutants and achieved complementation of the defective phenotypes. Furthermore, in irs-20 we identified a mutation in DNA-PKcs that causes substitution of a lysine for a glutamic acid in the fourth residue from the C-terminus. This represents a strong candidate for the inactivating mutation and provides supportive evidence that the extreme C-terminal motif is important for protein kinase activity.
PMCID: PMC147487  PMID: 9518490
3.  Molecular and biochemical characterization of xrs mutants defective in Ku80. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(3):1264-1273.
The gene product defective in radiosensitive CHO mutants belonging to ionizing radiation complementation group 5, which includes the extensively studied xrs mutants, has recently been identified as Ku80, a subunit of the Ku protein and a component of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK). Several group 5 mutants, including xrs-5 and -6, lack double-stranded DNA end-binding and DNA-PK activities. In this study, we examined additional xrs mutants at the molecular and biochemical levels. All mutants examined have low or undetectable levels of Ku70 and Ku80 protein, end-binding, and DNA-PK activities. Only one mutant, xrs-6, has Ku80 transcript levels detectable by Northern hybridization, but Ku80 mRNA was detectable by reverse transcription-PCR in most other mutants. Two mutants, xrs-4 and -6, have altered Ku80 transcripts resulting from mutational changes in the genomic Ku80 sequence affecting RNA splicing, indicating that the defects in these mutants lie in the Ku80 gene rather than a gene controlling its expression. Neither of these two mutants has detectable wild-type Ku80 transcript. Since the mutation in both xrs-4 and xrs-6 cells results in severely truncated Ku80 protein, both are likely candidates to be null mutants. Azacytidine-induced revertants of xrs-4 and -6 carried both wild-type and mutant transcripts. The results with these revertants strongly support our model proposed earlier, that CHO-K1 cells carry a copy of the Ku80 gene (XRCC5) silenced by hypermethylation. Site-directed mutagenesis studies indicate that previously proposed ATP-binding and phosphorylation sites are not required for Ku80 activity, whereas N-terminal deletions of more than the first seven amino acids result in severe loss of activities.
PMCID: PMC231851  PMID: 9032253

Results 1-3 (3)