JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

DNA damage response and transcription

Saskia Lagerwerf, Mischa G Vrouwe, René M Overmeer, Maria I Fousteri, Leon H F Mullenders
DNA Repair 2011 July 15, 10 (7): 743-50
21622031
A network of DNA damage surveillance systems is triggered by sensing of DNA lesions and the initiation of a signal transduction cascade that activates genome-protection pathways including nucleotide excision repair (NER). NER operates through coordinated assembly of repair factors into pre- and post-incision complexes. Recent work identifies RPA as a key regulator of the transition from dual incision to repair-synthesis in UV-irradiated non-cycling cells, thereby averting the generation of unprocessed repair intermediates. These intermediates could lead to recombinogenic events and trigger a persistent ATR-dependent checkpoint signaling. It is now evident that DNA damage signaling is not limited to NER proficient cells. ATR-dependent checkpoint activation also occurs in UV-exposed non-cycling repair deficient cells coinciding with the formation of endonuclease APE1-mediated DNA strand breaks. In addition, the encounter of elongating RNA polymerase II (RNAPIIo) with DNA damage lesions and its persistent stalling provides a strong DNA damage signaling leading to cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and increased mutagenesis. The mechanism underlying the strong and strand specific induction of UV-induced mutations in NER deficient cells has been recently resolved by the finding that gene transcription itself increases UV-induced mutagenesis in a strand specific manner via increased deamination of cytosines. The cell removes the RNAPIIo-blocking DNA lesions by transcription-coupled repair (TC-NER) without displacement of the DNA damage stalled RNAPIIo. Deficiency in TC-NER associates with mutations in the CSA and CSB genes giving rise to the rare human disorder Cockayne syndrome (CS). CSB functions as a repair coupling factor to attract NER proteins, chromatin remodelers and the CSA-E3-ubiquitin ligase complex to the stalled RNAPIIo; CSA is dispensable for attraction of NER proteins, yet in cooperation with CSB is required to recruit XAB2, the nucleosomal binding protein HMGN1 and TFIIS. The molecular mechanisms by which these proteins bring about efficient TC-NER and trigger signaling after transcription arrest remain elusive; particularly the role of chromatin remodeling in TC-NER needs to be clarified in the context of anticipated structural changes that allow repair and transcription restart.

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