Theses Doctoral

UVSSA regulates transcription-coupled genome maintenance

Liebau, Rowyn Church

DNA damage is a constant threat to our genomes which drives genome instability and contributes to cancer progression. DNA damage interferes with important DNA transactions such as transcription and replication. DNA lesions are removed by repair pathways that ensure genome stability during transcription and replication. Here, we identify and characterize distinct roles for the ultra violet stimulated scaffold protein A (UVSSA) in the maintenance of genome stability during transcription in human cells.

First, we unravel a novel function for UVSSA in transcription-coupled repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), genotoxic adducts that covalently bind opposing strands of the DNA and block transcription and replication. UVSSA knockout cells are sensitive to ICL inducing drugs, and UVSSA is specifically required for transcription-coupled repair of ICLs in a fluorescence-based reporter assay. Based on analysis of the UVSSA protein interactome in crosslinker treated cells we propose a model for transcription-coupled ICL repair (TC-ICR) that is initiated by stalling of transcribing RNA polymerase II (Pol II) at an ICL. Stalled Pol II is first bound by CSA and CSB, followed by UVSSA which recruits TFIIH to initiate downstream lesion removal steps.

Second, we establish that UVSSA counteracts MYC dependent transcription stress to promote genome stability in cells aberrantly expressing the cMYC oncogene. UVSSA knockdown sensitizes cells to MYC expression, resulting in synthetic sickness and increased doubling time. UVSSA knockdown impacts Pol II dynamics in MYC activated cells. We conclude that UVSSA is required for regulation of Pol II during MYC induced transcription to prevent transcription stress. Together, these studies expand our understanding of UVSSA’s role in genome stability during transcription and elucidates the poorly understood transcription-coupled ICL repair pathway.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Gautier, Jean J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 6, 2023