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The F-Box Domain-Dependent Activity of EMI1 Regulates PARPi Sensitivity in Triple-Negative Breast Cancers.

Mol Cell. 2019 01 17;73(2):224-237.e6

Authors: Marzio A, Puccini J, Kwon Y, Maverakis NK, Arbini A, Sung P, Bar-Sagi D, Pagano M

The BRCA1-BRCA2-RAD51 axis is essential for homologous recombination repair (HRR) and is frequently disrupted in breast cancers. PARP inhibitors (PARPis) are used clinically to treat BRCA-mutated breast tumors. Using a genetic screen, we identified EMI1 as a modulator of PARPi sensitivity in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. This function requires the F-box domain of EMI1, through which EMI1 assembles a canonical SCF ubiquitin ligase complex that constitutively targets RAD51 for degradation. In response to genotoxic stress, CHK1-mediated phosphorylation of RAD51 counteracts EMI1-dependent degradation by enhancing RAD51’s affinity for BRCA2, leading to RAD51 accumulation. Inhibition of RAD51 degradation restores HRR in BRCA1-depleted cells. Human breast cancer samples display an inverse correlation between EMI1 and RAD51 protein levels. A subset of BRCA1-deficient TNBC cells develop resistance to PARPi by downregulating EMI1 and restoring RAD51-dependent HRR. Notably, reconstitution of EMI1 expression reestablishes PARPi sensitivity both in cellular systems and in an orthotopic mouse model.

PMID: 30554948 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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The BRCA Tumor Suppressor Network in Chromosome Damage Repair by Homologous Recombination.

Annu Rev Biochem. 2019 Jun 20;88:221-245

Authors: Zhao W, Wiese C, Kwon Y, Hromas R, Sung P

Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes predispose afflicted individuals to breast, ovarian, and other cancers. The BRCA-encoded products form complexes with other tumor suppressor proteins and with the recombinase enzyme RAD51 to mediate chromosome damage repair by homologous recombination and also to protect stressed DNA replication forks against spurious nucleolytic attrition. Understanding how the BRCA tumor suppressor network executes its biological functions would provide the foundation for developing targeted cancer therapeutics, but progress in this area has been greatly hampered by the challenge of obtaining purified BRCA complexes for mechanistic studies. In this article, we review how recent effort begins to overcome this technical challenge, leading to functional and structural insights into the biochemical attributes of these complexes and the multifaceted roles that they fulfill in genome maintenance. We also highlight the major mechanistic questions that remain.

PMID: 30917004 [PubMed – in process]


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Telomeric overhang length determines structural dynamics and accessibility to telomerase and ALT-associated proteins.

Structure. 2014 Jun 10;22(6):842-53

Authors: Hwang H, Kreig A, Calvert J, Lormand J, Kwon Y, Daley JM, Sung P, Opresko PL, Myong S

The G-rich single-stranded DNA at the 3′ end of human telomeres can self-fold into G-quaduplex (GQ). However, telomere lengthening by telomerase or the recombination-based alternative lengthening of telomere (ALT) mechanism requires protein loading on the overhang. Using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, we discovered that lengthening the telomeric overhang also increased the rate of dynamic exchanges between structural conformations. Overhangs with five to seven TTAGGG repeats, compared with four repeats, showed much greater dynamics and accessibility to telomerase binding and activity and loading of the ALT-associated proteins RAD51, WRN, and BLM. Although the eight repeats are highly dynamic, they can fold into two GQs, which limited protein accessibility. In contrast, the telomere-specific protein POT1 is unique in that it binds independently of repeat number. Our results suggest that the telomeric overhang length and dynamics may contribute to the regulation of telomere extension via telomerase action and the ALT mechanism.

PMID: 24836024 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Tel1 and Rif2 Regulate MRX Functions in End-Tethering and Repair of DNA Double-Strand Breaks.

PLoS Biol. 2016 Feb;14(2):e1002387

Authors: Cassani C, Gobbini E, Wang W, Niu H, Clerici M, Sung P, Longhese MP

The cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is initiated by the MRX/MRN complex (Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 in yeast; Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 in mammals), which recruits the checkpoint kinase Tel1/ATM to DSBs. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the role of Tel1 at DSBs remains enigmatic, as tel1Δ cells do not show obvious hypersensitivity to DSB-inducing agents. By performing a synthetic phenotype screen, we isolated a rad50-V1269M allele that sensitizes tel1Δ cells to genotoxic agents. The MRV1269MX complex associates poorly to DNA ends, and its retention at DSBs is further reduced by the lack of Tel1. As a consequence, tel1Δ rad50-V1269M cells are severely defective both in keeping the DSB ends tethered to each other and in repairing a DSB by either homologous recombination (HR) or nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). These data indicate that Tel1 promotes MRX retention to DSBs and this function is important to allow proper MRX-DNA binding that is needed for end-tethering and DSB repair. The role of Tel1 in promoting MRX accumulation to DSBs is counteracted by Rif2, which is recruited to DSBs. We also found that Rif2 enhances ATP hydrolysis by MRX and attenuates MRX function in end-tethering, suggesting that Rif2 can regulate MRX activity at DSBs by modulating ATP-dependent conformational changes of Rad50.

PMID: 26901759 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Targeting cancer with a lupus autoantibody.

Sci Transl Med. 2012 Oct 24;4(157):157ra142

Authors: Hansen JE, Chan G, Liu Y, Hegan DC, Dalal S, Dray E, Kwon Y, Xu Y, Xu X, Peterson-Roth E, Geiger E, Liu Y, Gera J, Sweasy JB, Sung P, Rockwell S, Nishimura RN, Weisbart RH, Glazer PM

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is distinct among autoimmune diseases because of its association with circulating autoantibodies reactive against host DNA. The precise role that anti-DNA antibodies play in SLE pathophysiology remains to be elucidated, and potential applications of lupus autoantibodies in cancer therapy have not previously been explored. We report the unexpected finding that a cell-penetrating lupus autoantibody, 3E10, has potential as a targeted therapy for DNA repair-deficient malignancies. We find that 3E10 preferentially binds DNA single-strand tails, inhibits key steps in DNA single-strand and double-strand break repair, and sensitizes cultured tumor cells and human tumor xenografts to DNA-damaging therapy, including doxorubicin and radiation. Moreover, we demonstrate that 3E10 alone is synthetically lethal to BRCA2-deficient human cancer cells and selectively sensitizes such cells to low-dose doxorubicin. Our results establish an approach to cancer therapy that we expect will be particularly applicable to BRCA2-related malignancies such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. In addition, our findings raise the possibility that lupus autoantibodies may be partly responsible for the intrinsic deficiencies in DNA repair and the unexpectedly low rates of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers observed in SLE patients. In summary, this study provides the basis for the potential use of a lupus anti-DNA antibody in cancer therapy and identifies lupus autoantibodies as a potentially rich source of therapeutic agents.

PMID: 23100628 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Synthetic viability genomic screening defines Sae2 function in DNA repair.

EMBO J. 2015 Jun 03;34(11):1509-22

Authors: Puddu F, Oelschlaegel T, Guerini I, Geisler NJ, Niu H, Herzog M, Salguero I, Ochoa-Montaño B, Viré E, Sung P, Adams DJ, Keane TM, Jackson SP

DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair by homologous recombination (HR) requires 3′ single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) generation by 5′ DNA-end resection. During meiosis, yeast Sae2 cooperates with the nuclease Mre11 to remove covalently bound Spo11 from DSB termini, allowing resection and HR to ensue. Mitotic roles of Sae2 and Mre11 nuclease have remained enigmatic, however, since cells lacking these display modest resection defects but marked DNA damage hypersensitivities. By combining classic genetic suppressor screening with high-throughput DNA sequencing, we identify Mre11 mutations that strongly suppress DNA damage sensitivities of sae2∆ cells. By assessing the impacts of these mutations at the cellular, biochemical and structural levels, we propose that, in addition to promoting resection, a crucial role for Sae2 and Mre11 nuclease activity in mitotic DSB repair is to facilitate the removal of Mre11 from ssDNA associated with DSB ends. Thus, without Sae2 or Mre11 nuclease activity, Mre11 bound to partly processed DSBs impairs strand invasion and HR.

PMID: 25899817 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Structurally distinct Mre11 domains mediate MRX functions in resection, end-tethering and DNA damage resistance.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 04 06;46(6):2990-3008

Authors: Cassani C, Gobbini E, Vertemara J, Wang W, Marsella A, Sung P, Tisi R, Zampella G, Longhese MP

Sae2 cooperates with the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 (MRX) complex to initiate resection of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and to maintain the DSB ends in close proximity to allow their repair. How these diverse MRX-Sae2 functions contribute to DNA damage resistance is not known. Here, we describe mre11 alleles that suppress the hypersensitivity of sae2Δ cells to genotoxic agents. By assessing the impact of these mutations at the cellular and structural levels, we found that all the mre11 alleles that restore sae2Δ resistance to both camptothecin and phleomycin affect the Mre11 N-terminus and suppress the resection defect of sae2Δ cells by lowering MRX and Tel1 association to DSBs. As a consequence, the diminished Tel1 persistence potentiates Sgs1-Dna2 resection activity by decreasing Rad9 association to DSBs. By contrast, the mre11 mutations restoring sae2Δ resistance only to phleomycin are located in Mre11 C-terminus and bypass Sae2 function in end-tethering but not in DSB resection, possibly by destabilizing the Mre11-Rad50 open conformation. These findings unmask the existence of structurally distinct Mre11 domains that support resistance to genotoxic agents by mediating different processes.

PMID: 29420790 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Structural insights into 5′ flap DNA unwinding and incision by the human FAN1 dimer.

Nat Commun. 2014 Dec 11;5:5726

Authors: Zhao Q, Xue X, Longerich S, Sung P, Xiong Y

Human FANCD2-associated nuclease 1 (FAN1) is a DNA structure-specific nuclease involved in the processing of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). FAN1 maintains genomic stability and prevents tissue decline in multiple organs, yet it confers ICL-induced anti-cancer drug resistance in several cancer subtypes. Here we report three crystal structures of human FAN1 in complex with a 5′ flap DNA substrate, showing that two FAN1 molecules form a head-to-tail dimer to locate the lesion, orient the DNA and unwind a 5′ flap for subsequent incision. Biochemical experiments further validate our model for FAN1 action, as structure-informed mutations that disrupt protein dimerization, substrate orientation or flap unwinding impair the structure-specific nuclease activity. Our work elucidates essential aspects of FAN1-DNA lesion recognition and a unique mechanism of incision. These structural insights shed light on the cellular mechanisms underlying organ degeneration protection and cancer drug resistance mediated by FAN1.

PMID: 25500724 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Stress and DNA repair biology of the Fanconi anemia pathway.

Blood. 2014 Oct 30;124(18):2812-9

Authors: Longerich S, Li J, Xiong Y, Sung P, Kupfer GM

Fanconi anemia (FA) represents a paradigm of rare genetic diseases, where the quest for cause and cure has led to seminal discoveries in cancer biology. Although a total of 16 FA genes have been identified thus far, the biochemical function of many of the FA proteins remains to be elucidated. FA is rare, yet the fact that 5 FA genes are in fact familial breast cancer genes and FA gene mutations are found frequently in sporadic cancers suggest wider applicability in hematopoiesis and oncology. Establishing the interaction network involving the FA proteins and their associated partners has revealed an intersection of FA with several DNA repair pathways, including homologous recombination, DNA mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, and translesion DNA synthesis. Importantly, recent studies have shown a major involvement of the FA pathway in the tolerance of reactive aldehydes. Moreover, despite improved outcomes in stem cell transplantation in the treatment of FA, many challenges remain in patient care.

PMID: 25237197 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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