The Mre11 nuclease has been the subject of intensive investigation for the past 20 years because of the central role that Mre11/Rad50 complexes play in genome maintenance. The last two decades of work on this complex has led to a much deeper understanding of the structure, biochemical activities, and regulation of Mre11/Rad50 complexes from archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotic cells. This review will discuss some of the important findings over recent years that have illuminated roles for the Mre11 nuclease in these different contexts as well as the insights from structural biology that have helped us to understand its mechanisms of action.
The protein kinase ATM is a master regulator of the DNA damage response but also responds directly to oxidative stress. Loss of ATM causes ataxia telangiectasia, a neurodegenerative disorder with pleiotropic symptoms that include cerebellar dysfunction, cancer, diabetes, and premature aging. We genetically separated the activation of ATM by DNA damage from that by oxidative stress using separation-of-function mutations. We found that deficient activation of ATM by the Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 complex and DNA double-strand breaks resulted in loss of cell viability, checkpoint activation, and DNA end resection in response to DNA damage. In contrast, loss of oxidative activation of ATM had minimal effects on DNA damage-related outcomes but blocked ATM-mediated initiation of checkpoint responses after oxidative stress and resulted in deficiencies in mitochondrial function and autophagy. In addition, expression of a variant ATM incapable of activation by oxidative stress resulted in widespread protein aggregation. These results indicate a direct relationship between the mechanism of ATM activation and its effects on cellular metabolism and DNA damage responses in human cells and implicate ATM in the control of protein homeostasis.
Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is a serine/threonine kinase that coordinates the response to DNA double-strand breaks and oxidative stress. NKX3.1, a prostate-specific transcription factor, was recently shown to directly stimulate ATM kinase activity through its highly conserved homeodomain. Here, we show that other members of the homeodomain family can also regulate ATM kinase activity. We found that six representative homeodomain proteins (NKX3.1, NKX2.2, TTF1, NKX2.5, HOXB7, and CDX2) physically and functionally interact with ATM and with the Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) complex that activates ATM in combination with DNA double-strand breaks. The binding between homeodomain proteins and ATM stimulates oxidation-induced ATM activation in vitro but inhibits ATM kinase activity in the presence of MRN and DNA and in human cells. These findings suggest that many tissue-specific homeodomain proteins may regulate ATM activity during development and differentiation and that this is a unique mechanism for the control of the DNA damage response.
Mitochondria are integral to cellular energy metabolism and ATP production and are involved in regulating many cellular processes. Mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), which not only can damage cellular components but also participate in signal transduction. The kinase ATM, which is mutated in the neurodegenerative, autosomal recessive disease ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), is a key player in the nuclear DNA damage response. However, ATM also performs a redox-sensing function mediated through formation of ROS-dependent disulfide-linked dimers. We found that mitochondria-derived hydrogen peroxide promoted ATM dimerization. In HeLa cells, ATM dimers were localized to the nucleus and inhibited by the redox regulatory protein thioredoxin 1 (TRX1), suggesting the existence of a ROS-mediated, stress-signaling relay from mitochondria to the nucleus. ATM dimer formation did not affect its association with chromatin in the absence or presence of nuclear DNA damage, consistent with the separation of its redox and DNA damage signaling functions. Comparative analysis of U2OS cells expressing either wild-type ATM or the redox sensing-deficient C2991L mutant revealed that one function of ATM redox sensing is to promote glucose flux through the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) by increasing the abundance and activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), thereby increasing cellular antioxidant capacity. The PPP produces the coenzyme NADPH needed for a robust antioxidant response, including the regeneration of TRX1, indicating the existence of a regulatory feedback loop involving ATM and TRX1. We propose that loss of the mitochondrial ROS-sensing function of ATM may cause cellular ROS accumulation and oxidative stress in A-T.
Putzer J Hung, Britney Johnson, Bo-Ruei Chen, Andrea K Byrum, Andrea L Bredemeyer, William T Yewdell, Tanya E Johnson, Brian J Lee, Shruthi Deivasigamani, Issa Hindi, Parmeshwar Amatya, Michael L Gross, Tanya T Paull, David J Pisapia, Jayanta Chaudhuri, John JH Petrini, Nima Mosammaparast, Gaya K Amarasinghe, Shan Zha, Jessica K Tyler, and Barry P Sleckman. 2AD. “MRI Is a DNA Damage Response Adaptor during Classical Non-homologous End Joining.” Mol Cell, 71, 2, Pp. 332-342.e8. Abstract
The modulator of retrovirus infection (MRI or CYREN) is a 30-kDa protein with a conserved N-terminal Ku-binding motif (KBM) and a C-terminal XLF-like motif (XLM). We show that MRI is intrinsically disordered and interacts with many DNA damage response (DDR) proteins, including the kinases ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and DNA-PKcs and the classical non-homologous end joining (cNHEJ) factors Ku70, Ku80, XRCC4, XLF, PAXX, and XRCC4. MRI forms large multimeric complexes that depend on its N and C termini and localizes to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), where it promotes the retention of DDR factors. Mice deficient in MRI and XLF exhibit embryonic lethality at a stage similar to those deficient in the core cNHEJ factors XRCC4 or DNA ligase IV. Moreover, MRI is required for cNHEJ-mediated DSB repair in XLF-deficient lymphocytes. We propose that MRI is an adaptor that, through multivalent interactions, increases the avidity of DDR factors to DSB-associated chromatin to promote cNHEJ.
The Sae2/CtIP protein is required for efficient processing of DNA double-strand breaks that initiate homologous recombination in eukaryotic cells. Sae2/CtIP is also important for survival of single-stranded Top1-induced lesions and CtIP is known to associate directly with transcription-associated complexes in mammalian cells. Here we investigate the role of Sae2/CtIP at single-strand lesions in budding yeast and in human cells and find that depletion of Sae2/CtIP promotes the accumulation of stalled RNA polymerase and RNA-DNA hybrids at sites of highly expressed genes. Overexpression of the RNA-DNA helicase Senataxin suppresses DNA damage sensitivity and R-loop accumulation in Sae2/CtIP-deficient cells, and a catalytic mutant of CtIP fails to complement this sensitivity, indicating a role for CtIP nuclease activity in the repair process. Based on this evidence, we propose that R-loop processing by 5' flap endonucleases is a necessary step in the stabilization and removal of nascent R-loop initiating structures in eukaryotic cells.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Here we report a role for the protein kinase p38α in coordinating the DNA damage response and limiting chromosome instability during breast tumor progression, and identify the DNA repair regulator CtIP as a p38α substrate. Accordingly, decreased p38α signaling results in impaired ATR activation and homologous recombination repair, with concomitant increases in replication stress, DNA damage, and chromosome instability, leading to cancer cell death and tumor regression. Moreover, we show that pharmacological inhibition of p38α potentiates the effects of taxanes by boosting chromosome instability in murine models and patient-derived xenografts, suggesting the potential interest of combining p38α inhibitors with chemotherapeutic drugs that induce chromosome instability.