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Journal: DNA repair


Accurate DNA replication and DNA repair are crucial for the maintenance of genome stability, and it is generally accepted that failure of these processes is a major source of DNA damage in cells. Intriguingly, recent evidence suggests that DNA damage is more likely to occur at genomic loci with high transcriptional activity. Furthermore, loss of certain RNA processing factors in eukaryotic cells is associated with increased formation of co-transcriptional RNA:DNA hybrid structures known as R-loops, resulting in double-strand breaks (DSBs) and DNA damage. However, the molecular mechanisms by which R-loop structures ultimately lead to DNA breaks and genome instability is not well understood. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about the formation, recognition and processing of RNA:DNA hybrids, and discuss possible mechanisms by which these structures contribute to DNA damage and genome instability in the cell.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Organism, DNA replication


DNA helicases are molecular motors that harness the energy of nucleoside triphosphate hydrolysis to unwinding structured DNA molecules that must be resolved during cellular replication, DNA repair, recombination, and transcription. In vivo, DNA helicases are expected to encounter a wide spectrum of covalent DNA modifications to the sugar phosphate backbone or the nitrogenous bases; these modifications can be induced by endogenous biochemical processes or exposure to environmental agents. The frequency of lesion abundance can vary depending on the lesion type. Certain adducts such as oxidative base modifications can be quite numerous, and their effects can be helix-distorting or subtle perturbations to DNA structure. Helicase encounters with specific DNA lesions and more novel forms of DNA damage will be discussed. We will also review the battery of assays that have been used to characterize helicase-catalyzed unwinding of damaged DNA substrates. Characterization of the effects of specific DNA adducts on unwinding by various DNA repair and replication helicases has proven to be insightful for understanding mechanistic and biological aspects of helicase function in cellular DNA metabolism.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, DNA repair, DNA replication, Molecular motor, Helicase


Acylpeptide hydrolase (APEH) deacetylates N-alpha-acetylated peptides and selectively degrades oxidised proteins, but the biochemical pathways that are regulated by this protease are unknown. Here, we identify APEH as a component of the cellular response to DNA damage. Although APEH is primarily localised in the cytoplasm, we show that a sub-fraction of this enzyme is sequestered at sites of nuclear damage following UVA irradiation or following oxidative stress. We show that localization of APEH at sites of nuclear damage is mediated by direct interaction with XRCC1, a scaffold protein that accelerates the repair of DNA single-strand breaks. We show that APEH interacts with the amino-terminal domain of XRCC1, and that APEH facilitates both single-strand break repair and cell survival following exposure to H2O2 in human cells. These data identify APEH as a novel proteolytic component of the DNA damage response.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Cell, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme


DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) trigger a variety of cellular signaling processes, collectively termed the DNA-damage response (DDR), that are primarily regulated by protein kinase ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM). Among DDR activated processes, the repair of DSBs by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) is essential. The proper coordination of NHEJ factors is mainly achieved through phosphorylation by an ATM-related kinase, the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), although the molecular basis for this regulation has yet to be fully elucidated. In this study we identify the major NHEJ DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase lambda (Polλ), as a target for both ATM and DNA-PKcs in human cells. We show that Polλ is efficiently phosphorylated by DNA-PKcs in vitro and predominantly by ATM after DSB induction with ionizing radiation (IR) in vivo. We identify threonine 204 (T204) as a main target for ATM/DNA-PKcs phosphorylation on human Polλ, and establish that its phosphorylation may facilitate the repair of a subset of IR-induced DSBs and the efficient Polλ-mediated gap-filling during NHEJ. Molecular evidence suggests that Polλ phosphorylation might favor Polλ interaction with the DNA-PK complex at DSBs. Altogether, our work provides the first demonstration of how Polλ is regulated by phosphorylation to connect with the NHEJ core machinery during DSB repair in human cells.

Concepts: DNA, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, DNA repair, Phosphorylation, DNA replication, Non-homologous end joining, DNA-PKcs


The ATM kinase plays critical roles in the response to DNA double-strand breaks, and can also be activated by prolonged DNA replication blocks. It has recently been proposed that replication stress-dependent ATM activation is mediated by ASCIZ (also known as ATMIN, ZNF822), an essential developmental transcription factor. In contrast, we show here that ATM activation, and phosphorylation of its substrates KAP1, p53 and H2AX in response to the replication blocking agent aphidicolin was unaffected in both immortalized and primary ASCIZ/ATMIN-deficient murine embryonic fibroblasts compared to control cells. Similar results were also obtained in human ASCIZ/ATMIN-deleted lymphoma cells. The results demonstrate that ASCIZ/ATMIN is dispensable for ATM activation, and contradict the previously reported dependence of ATM on ASCIZ/ATMIN.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Adenosine triphosphate, DNA repair, Transcription factor, DNA replication, P53


Maintenance of a genome requires DNA repair integrated with chromatin remodeling. We have analyzed six transcriptome data sets and one data set on translational regulation of known DNA repair and remodeling genes in synchronized human cells. These data are available through our new database: Genes that have similar transcription profiles in at least two of our data sets generally agree well with known protein profiles. In brief, long patch base excision repair (BER) is enriched for S phase genes, whereas short patch BER uses genes essentially equally expressed in all cell cycle phases. Furthermore, most genes related to DNA mismatch repair, Fanconi anemia and homologous recombination have their highest expression in the S phase. In contrast, genes specific for direct repair, nucleotide excision repair, as well as non-homologous end joining do not show cell cycle-related expression. Cell cycle regulated chromatin remodeling genes were most frequently confined to G1/S and S. These include e.g. genes for chromatin assembly factor 1 (CAF-1) major subunits CHAF1A and CHAF1B; the putative helicases HELLS and ATAD2 that both co-activate E2F transcription factors central in G1/S-transition and recruit DNA repair and chromatin-modifying proteins and DNA double strand break repair proteins; and RAD54L and RAD54B involved in double strand break repair. TOP2A was consistently most highly expressed in G2, but also expressed in late S phase, supporting a role in regulating entry into mitosis. Translational regulation complements transcriptional regulation and appears to be a relatively common cell cycle regulatory mechanism for DNA repair genes. Our results identify cell cycle phases in which different pathways have highest activity, and demonstrate that periodically expressed genes in a pathway are frequently co-expressed. Furthermore, the data suggest that S phase expression and over-expression of some multifunctional chromatin remodeling proteins may set up feedback loops driving cancer cell proliferation.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, DNA repair, Cell cycle


Oxidatively-induced DNA damage has previously been associated with bipolar disorder. More recently, impairments in DNA repair mechanisms have also been reported. We aimed to investigate oxidatively-induced DNA lesions and expression of DNA glycosylases involved in base excision repair in euthymic patients with bipolar disorder compared to healthy individuals. DNA base lesions including both base and nucleoside modifications were measured using gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry with isotope-dilution in DNA samples isolated from leukocytes of euthymic patients with bipolar disorder (n = 32) and healthy individuals (n = 51). The expression of DNA repair enzymes OGG1 and NEIL1 were measured using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The levels of malondialdehyde were measured using high performance liquid chromatography. Seven DNA base lesions in DNA of leukocytes of patients and healthy individuals were identified and quantified. Three of them had significantly elevated levels in bipolar patients when compared to healthy individuals. No elevation of lipid peroxidation marker malondialdehyde was observed. The level of OGG1 expression was significantly reduced in bipolar patients compared to healthy individuals, whereas the two groups exhibited similar levels of NEIL1 expression. Our results suggest that oxidatively-induced DNA damage occurs and base excision repair capacity may be decreased in bipolar patients when compared to healthy individuals. Measurement of oxidatively-induced DNA base lesions and the expression of DNA repair enzymes may be of great importance for large scale basic research and clinical studies of bipolar disorder.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Polymerase chain reaction, DNA repair, AP site, Nucleotide excision repair, Base excision repair


In cells, degrading DNA and RNA by various nucleases is very important. These processes are strictly controlled and regulated to maintain DNA integrity and to mature or recycle various RNAs. NanoRNase (Nrn) is a 3'-exonuclease that specifically degrades nanoRNAs shorter than 5 nucleotides. Several Nrns have been identified and characterized in bacteria, mainly in Firmicutes. Archaea often grow in extreme environments and might be subjected to more damage to DNA/RNA, so DNA repair and recycling of damaged RNA are very important in archaea. There is no report on the identification and characterization of Nrn in archaea. Aeropyrum pernix encodes three potential Nrns: NrnA (Ape1437), NrnB (Ape0124), and an Nrn-like protein Ape2190. Biochemical characterization showed that only Ape0124 could degrade ssDNA and ssRNA from the 3'-end in the presence of Mn2+. Interestingly, unlike bacterial Nrns, Ape0124 preferred to ssDNA, including short nanoDNA, while degraded nanoRNA in lower efficiency. The 3'-DNA backbone was required for efficiently hydrolyzing the phosphodiester bonds. In addition, Ape0124 also degraded the 3'-overhang of double-stranded DNA. Interestingly, Ape0124 could hydrolyze pAp into AMP, which is a feature of bacterial NrnA, not NrnB. Our results indicate that Ape0124 is a novel Nrn with a combined substrate profile of bacterial NrnA and NrnB.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Molecular biology, RNA


The Fanconi anemia pathway is an important coordinator of DNA repair pathways and is particularly relevant to repair of DNA inter-strand crosslinks. Central to the pathway is monoubiquitination of FANCD2, requiring the function of multiple proteins in an upstream Fanconi core complex. We present development and analytical characterization of a novel assay for quantification of unmodified and monoubiquitinated FANCD2 proteoforms, based on peptide immunoaffinity enrichment and targeted multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry (immuno-MRM). The immuno-MRM assay is analytically characterized using fit-for-purpose method validation. The assay linear range is >3 orders of magnitude with total repeatability <16% CV. In proof-of-principle experiments, we demonstrate application of the multiplex assay by quantifying the FANCD2 proteoforms following mitomycin-c treatment in an isogenic pair of FancA-corrected and uncorrected cell lines, as well as primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Fanconi Anemia patients. Additionally, we demonstrate detection of endogenous FANCD2 monoubiquitination in human breast cancer tissue. The immuno-MRM assay provides a potential functional diagnostic for patients with Fanconi Anemia with defects in the upstream FA complex or FANCD2, and a potential test for predicting sensitivity to DNA cross-linking agents in human cancers.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cancer, Blood, DNA repair, BRCA2, BRCA1


ERCC1/XPF endonuclease plays an important role in multiple DNA repair pathways and stands as a potential prognostic and predictive biomarker for cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Four distinct ERCC1 isoforms arising from alternative splicing have been described (201, 202, 203 and 204) but only the 202 isoform is functional in DNA excision repair, when interacting with its obligate partner XPF. Currently, there is no tool to assess specifically the expression of ERCC1-202 due to high sequence homology between the four isoforms. Here, we generated monoclonal antibodies directed against the heterodimer of ERCC1 and its obligate interacting partner XPF by genetic immunization. We obtained three monoclonal antibodies (2C11, 7C3 and 10D10) recognizing specifically the heterodimer ERCC1-202/XPF as well as the ERCC1-204/XPF with no affinity to ERCC1 or XPF monomers. By combining one of these three heterodimer-specific antibodies with a commercial anti-ERCC1 antibody (clone 4F9) unable to recognize the 204 isoform in a proximity ligation assay (PLA), we managed to specifically detect the functional ERCC1-202 isoform. This methodological breakthrough can constitute a basis for the development of clinical tests to evaluate ERCC1 functional proficiency.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Genetics, Gene expression, Evolution, Molecular biology, DNA repair, Alternative splicing