NBS1 and its functional role in the DNA damage response

Junya Kobayashi, Antonio Antoccia, Hiroshi Tauchi, Shinya Matsuura, Kenshi Komatsu
DNA Repair 2004, 3 (8): 855-61
Nijmegen breakage syndrome is a recessive genetic disorder, characterized by elevated sensitivity to ionizing radiation, chromosome instability and high frequency of malignancies. Since cellular features partly overlap with those of ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), NBS was long considered an A-T clinical variant. NBS1, the product of the gene underlying the disease, contains three functional regions: the forkhead-associated (FHA) domain and BRCA1 C-terminus (BRCT) domain at the N-terminus, several SQ motifs (consensus phosphorylation sites by ATM and ATR kinases) at a central region and MRE11-binding region at the C-terminus. NBS1 forms a multimeric complex with hMRE11/hRAD50 nuclease at the C-terminus and recruits or retains them at the vicinity of sites of DNA damage by direct binding to histone H2AX, which is phosphorylated by ATM in response to DNA damage. The combination of the FHA/BRCT domains has a crucial role for the binding of NBS1 to H2AX. Thereafter, the NBS1 complex proceeds to rejoin double-strand breaks predominantly by homologous recombination repair in vertebrates, while it also might be involved in suppression of inter-chromosomal recombination even for V(D)J recombination. These processes collaborate with cell cycle checkpoints to facilitate DNA repair, while defects of these checkpoints in NBS cells are partial in nature. A possible explanation for these moderate defects are the redundancy of multiple checkpoint regulations in vertebrates, or the modulator role of NBS1, in which NBS1 amplifies ATM activation by accumulation of the MRN complex at damaged sites. This molecular link of NBS1 to ATM may explain the phenotypic similarity of NBS to A-T.

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