Theses Doctoral

The Molecular Mechanism of Replication Independent Repair of DNA Interstrand Crosslinks

Kato, Niyo

DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are a potent type of DNA damage that arise as a consequence of normal cell metabolism. By covalently linking opposing strands of the double helix, ICLs block essential DNA transactions such as replication, transcription, and recombination. If unrepaired, or incorrectly repaired, ICLs can lead to gross genome instability and cell death. This cytotoxicity has been exploited in the clinic, where ICL inducing drugs are among the oldest and most widely prescribed anti-cancer therapies. However, acquired resistance is a significant limitation of these drugs, and the mechanism by which this occurs remains largely elusive.
In order to develop more effective ICL-based therapies, it is imperative to first fully elucidate how healthy cells respond to and repair ICLs. Moreover, better understanding ICL repair mechanisms is necessary to fully unravel the complex DNA repair networks that govern genomic integrity, and understand the physiology of diseases such as Fanconi Anemia, which result from the inability to efficiently repair ICL lesions.
Multiple mechanisms of ICL repair exist, and repair pathway choice is primarily determined by the phase of the cell cycle. In proliferating cells, the ICL repair occurs during S-phase, and in a process termed “replication coupled repair” (RCR). In contrast, slowly or non-dividing cells rely on an alternative modality of repair called “replication independent repair” (RIR). RIR is critical for homeostasis and survival in quiescent healthy cells that (for example, neurons) and in cycling cells deficient for replication coupled repair proteins (i.e. Fanconi Anemia cells).
Despite its importance, little is known about RIR. This is due, in part, to the fact that ICL repair has been primarily studied in systems, such as cultured cells, that favor RCR and are therefore bias against RIR. More recently, non-replicating Xenopus cell-free extracts has emerged as a powerful system to study RIR. This system faithfully recapitulates RIR and has been instrumental in identifying DNA polymerase kappa (Pol κ) and the eukaryotic sliding clamp, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), as two critical RIR factors. However, other important RIR factors are yet to be identified.
ICL repair is unique among DNA repair pathways as it harnesses proteins from diverse DNA repair pathways including, Base Excision Repair (BER), Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER), Mismatch Repair (MMR), and Double Strand Break Repair (DSBR). Chapter 1 provides an overview of these pathways including the types of DNA damage that each pathway responds to, key steps of the repair process, and the corresponding proteins that are involved. This chapter provides context for the rest of the thesis in which I explore the contribution of multiple DNA repair proteins on the repair of ICL lesions.
In Chapter 2, I detail our studies assessing the contribution of the MMR machinery to RIR. We show that the mismatch repair sensor, MutS complex (MSH2-MSH6), is critical for ICL recognition, and the stepwise recruitment of other MMR proteins including MutL (MLH1-PMS2) and EXO1. In this chapter, I also investigate how ICL structure influences repair. I find that more distorting ICLs use an MMR-dependent ICL repair mechanism, while less distorting ICLs are repaired MMR-independently (see also Appendix A), or not repaired at all. Appendix B further explores the contribution of the MMR pathway on ICL repair in mammalian cells.
Finally, in Appendix C and D we provide further evidence that RIR is fundamentally distinct from replication coupled ICL repair, as depletion of key RCR proteins from our extracts yields no phenotype. I summarize all of these findings in Chapter 3, and discuss their implications to the DNA repair field as well as the clinic, where crosslinker drugs remain a mainstay in the treatment of cancer.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Gautier, Jean
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2018