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Contents:
  1. Study Uncovers How DNA Repair Protein Finds Damage
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  3. Stripped-down DNA repair in a highly reduced parasite | BMC Molecular Biology | Full Text
  4. DNA Damage Repair Enzymes

As a result, it is error prone.

Study Uncovers How DNA Repair Protein Finds Damage

Because a second DNA molecule is not required for the function of this repair pathway, it remains active throughout the cell cycle, but has a limited contribution to the rejoining of DNA lesions generating a single DNA terminus. The fact that at least two genetically and conceptually distinct repair pathways are involved in the elimination of DSBs, poses questions regarding their coordination.

If these pathways operate independently of each other it is possible that they compete against each other. If they collaborate, the question arises as to how their functions are coordinated. In this regard, it appears puzzling that cells of higher eukaryotes appear programmed to utilize preferentially NHEJ.

Finally, we cover connections between DSB repair and cell cycle progression and discuss potential sources of errors during DSB repair that affect genomic stability and may lead to cancer development. A breakthrough in our understanding of the process of homologous recombination HR in general and of HRR in particular was the model proposed in by Robin Holliday to explain meiotic recombination. The Holliday model described some of the basic steps of the recombination process, but was unable to explain all sets of available genetic data.

Recombination events carried out by this mechanism in mitotic cells lack crossover products exchange of chromosome arms. All current recombination models are formulated on the basis of genetic data and emphasize the role of HR during meiosis or mitosis. The meiotic function of HR mediates the exchanges of genetic material between the homologous chromosomes of the gamete precursor cells and ensures genetic diversity in the progeny San Filippo et al. Genetic and biochemical data provide strong evidence for the involvement of mitotic HR in the repair of DSBs.

Moreover, HR is required for the restart of blocked or collapsed replication forks, as well as during the repair of inter-strand crosslinks ICLs Ide et al. The ultimate goal of HRR is to assist a DNA molecule that has suffered sequence information loss as a result of damage to both strands, to retrieve this information from an undamaged homologous DNA sequence. To this end, damaged and undamaged DNA molecules will need to directly interact, i.

Also the chromatin structure on both molecules will need to be modified to facilitate the search for homologous regions in neighboring DNA molecules. Once homology has been found sequence information will need to be copied by appropriately directed DNA synthesis, and finally the synapsed molecules will need to be separated.

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Because DSBs are frequently generated in the genome accidently, the cell needs to be prepared for their repair by maintaining sufficient pools of repair factors. Indeed, there is evidence that in eukaryotic cells the level of the repair proteins is higher compared to the level of other proteins of the cellular metabolism Shrivastav et al. These pools may have a cell cycle component for repair pathways such as HRR that show preferential function in certain phases of the cell cycle.

In addition to the random induction of DSBs after accidental or intentional exposure to physical or chemical agents, cells also induce DSBs in their genome in a programmed fashion as part of certain differentiation programs. The differentiation of germ cells and of the cells of the hematopoietic system is a good example along these lines. In general, these DSB inducing nucleases interact with components of the repair pathways that are associated with the proper recognition and processing of the generated DSBs Keeney et al.

Although there is evidence that HR events may be initiated by a single-strand break Metzger et al. This form of DNA can invade and pair to homologous sequences present in an intact molecule and be directly extended by polymerization to copy missing sequence information see below. Therefore, the effectiveness of HRR may be dictated by the ability of cells to execute end resection in a proper orientation, immediately after the generation of the DSB. It consists of the Mre11 nuclease, the Rad50 protein, an ATP-binding polypeptide with bridging functions through a coiled-coil motif and the Nbs1 protein, a polypeptide rich in protein-protein interaction domains Fig.

Stripped-down DNA repair in a highly reduced parasite | BMC Molecular Biology | Full Text

However, the identification of the human Xrs2 homolog the third subunits of the yeast MRX complex was hampered owing to its high sequence diversity between species. Ultimately, it was shown that the gene mutated in the Nijmegen breakage syndrome, NBS1, is the human XRS2 homolog, and that its product physically interacts with Mre Deficiency in Nbs1 causes the clinical phenotype characterized by hypersensitivity to DNA damaging agents generating DSBs, through defective repair and checkpoint activation Digweed et al.

Mre11 is an 80 kDa protein that harbors three constitutive phosphoesterase N-terminal motifs and one phosphoesterase motif similar to the SbcD subunit of the SbcCD nuclease Fig. It acts as an endonucleasethat cleaves hairpin structures, as well as an exonuclease that degradeslinear double-stranded ds DNA molecules Biroccio et al.

DNA Damage Repair Enzymes

Schematic representations of identified consensus domains in DSB repair proteins. Proteins participating in the initial steps of DSB repair and those considered to play a mediating role during signaling and repair are presented. Homology mediated repair of DSBs.


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In subsequent steps and after localization of, and invasion into the homologous DNA region, repair synthesis is initiated and a HJ is generated from each DNA end, which in the end of the process is resolved by the resolvase complex. Through the action of such putative helicase the initial unwinding of DNA occurs, resulting in a formation of secondary DNA structures. In addition, Mre11 can process the 5' strand using its endonuclease activity by trimming the secondary DNA structures. IR breaks the DNA molecule by damaging its sugar moiety, thus generating ends that are not amenable to ligation before processing.

In agreement with this putative function, unmodified DSB ends generated by HO nuclease are substrates for nucleolytic enzymes even in the absence of active Mre11, suggesting that the nuclease function of MRN is only needed during the initial steps of the end-resection reaction. However, it has been reported that the human homologue of the yeast resection factor Exo1, is important for the recruitment of RPA and Rad51 proteins through the generation of ssDNA regions. The potential role of Exo1 in HRR was also shown in experiments with Exo1 depleted cells, which develop hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation and show increased chromosomal instability Bolderson et al.

Indeed, there is evidence that RPA functions as a checkpoint activator Stephan et al. Along with its ability to promote the synapsis between the homologous DNA sequences, Rad51 arises as a central recombination protein facilitating in general the formation of hybrid DNA duplexes Heyer et al. The nucleoprotein filament represents the active state of Rad51 recombinase and plays a pivotal role in the homology search reaction Raderschall et al.

These mutants also show defects in mitotic and meiotic recombination Ofir et al. The human RAD51 gene was identified in by Morita et al. Despite extensive sequence similarity between human and yeast Rad51, the vertebrate Rad51 recombinase fails to complement the HR defects of yeast Rad51 mutants, suggesting evolutionary divergent properties for the two proteins Shinohara et al.

When it comes to deciding how to fix breaks in DNA, cells face the same choice between two major repair pathways.

The decision matters, because the wrong choice could cause even more DNA damage and lead to cancer. Salk Institute scientists found that a tiny protein called CYREN helps cells choose the right pathway at the right time, clarifying a longstanding mystery about DNA repair and offering researchers a powerful tool that could guide better treatments for cancer. The work appears in Nature on September 20, Credit: Salk Institute Double-strand breaks, the most serious injuries that happen to DNA, can be repaired by one of two pathways: a fast but error-prone process known as NHEJ non-homologous end joining and a slower, error-free pathway known as HR homologous recombination.

The faster pathway efficiently rejoins broken strands, but in the case of multiple breaks it can join the wrong two ends together, making things much worse for a cell. The slower pathway is error-free because it relies on having an undamaged DNA sequence to guide the repair, but this means it can only operate after a cell has copied its genetic information in order to divide. Scientists have long suspected that something must be holding the faster option back in those cases. The new study shows how specialised proteins engulf and protect the damaged DNA and 'escort' it until the damage can be repaired.

The researchers discovered that this process relies on precise timing and meticulous control inside the cells.

DNA structure and replication

Defense against an enemy within Cancer typically develops from cells with damaged DNA. It is well-known that tobacco smoke or ultraviolet light causes lung or skin cancer precisely due to their ability to damage DNA. However bad this may be, the hope in these environment-caused cancers is that we are aware of their origins and can thus dramatically reduce the risk simply by discarding cigarettes or shielding ourselves against excessive exposure to sunlight.

What is less known is that a more problematic source of DNA damage is normal cellular processes such as DNA replication. These cannot be avoided because they are inevitably in action every time cells divide. The scale of this problem is best illustrated by realizing that our bodies are made up by successive divisions of trillions of cells, all originating from a single fertilized egg. Every day, a quarter of a trillion cells in the adult human body continue to divide to replenish old or damaged tissue. Amongst the multitude of DNA damage incurred during each such cell division process, the most dangerous are those that can be passed on from mother cells to newly born daughter cells.