A divalent FHA/BRCT-binding mechanism couples the MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 complex to damaged chromatin

Flurina J Hari, Christoph Spycher, Stephanie Jungmichel, Lucijana Pavic, Manuel Stucki
EMBO Reports 2010, 11 (5): 387-92
The MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 (MRN) complex accumulates at sites of DNA double-strand breaks in large chromatin domains flanking the lesion site. The mechanism of MRN accumulation involves direct binding of the Nijmegen breakage syndrome 1 (NBS1) subunit to phosphorylated mediator of the DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1), a large nuclear adaptor protein that interacts directly with phosphorylated H2AX. NBS1 contains an FHA domain and two BRCT domains at its amino terminus. Here, we show that both of these domains participate in the interaction with phosphorylated MDC1. Point mutations in key amino acid residues of either the FHA or the BRCT domains compromise the interaction with MDC1 and lead to defects in MRN accumulation at sites of DNA damage. Surprisingly, only mutation in the FHA domain, but not in the BRCT domains, yields a G2/M checkpoint defect, indicating that MDC1-dependent chromatin accumulation of the MRN complex at sites of DNA breaks is not required for G2/M checkpoint activation.

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