Role of Mammalian RAD51 Paralogs in Genome Maintenance and Tumor Suppression
My research was focused on understanding the importance of mammalian RAD51 paralogs in genome maintenance and suppression of tumorigenesis. The investigation carried out during this study has been addressed toward gaining more insights into the involvement of RAD51 paralogs in DNA damage signalling, repair of various types of lesions including double stranded breaks (DSBs), daughter strand gaps (DSGs), interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), and in the protection of stalled replication forks. My study highlights the molecular functions of RAD51 paralogs in Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway of ICL repair, in the ATM and ATR mediated DNA damage responses, in homologous recombination (HR), and in the recovery from replication associated lesions. My research also focused on the development of a novel photoinducible ICL agent for targeted cancer therapy. The thesis has been divided into following sections as follows: Chapter I: General introduction that describes about DNA damage responses and the known functions of RAD51 paralogs across species in DNA repair and checkpoint The genome of every living organism is susceptible to various types of DNA damage and mammalian cells are evolved with various DNA damage surveillance mechanisms in response to DNA damages. In response to DNA damage, activated checkpoints arrest the cell cycle progression transiently and allow the repair of damaged DNA. Upon completion of DNA repair, checkpoints are deactivated to resume the normal cell cycle progression. Defective DNA damage responses may lead to chromosome instability and tumorigenesis. Indeed, genome instability is associated with several genetic disorders, premature ageing and various types of cancer in humans. The major cause of chromosome instability is the formation of DSBs and DSGs. Both DSBs and DSGs are the most dangerous type of DNA lesions that arise endogenously as well as through exogenous sources such as radiations and chemicals. Spontaneous DNA damage is due to generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through normal cellular metabolism. Replication across ROS induced modified bases and single strand breaks (SSBs) leads to DSGs and DSBs, respectively. Such DNA lesions need to be accurately repaired to maintain the integrity of the genome. To understand the various cellular responses that are triggered after different types of DNA damage and the possible roles of RAD51 paralogs in these processes, chapter I of the thesis has been distributed in to multiple sections as follows: Briefly, the initial portion of the chapter provides a glimpse of various types of DNA damage responses and repair pathways to deal with the lesions arising from both endogenous as well as exogenous sources. Owing to the vast range of cellular responses and pathways, the following section provides the detailed description and mechanisms of various pathways involved in taking care of wide range of DNA lesions from SSBs to DSBs. Subsequent section of chapter I provides a comprehensive description of maintenance of genome stability at the replication fork and telomeres. Germline mutations in the genes that regulate genome integrity cause various genetic disorders and cancer. Mutations in ATM, ATR, MRE11, NBS1, BLM and FANC (1-16), BRCA1 and BRCA2 that are known to regulate DNA damage signaling, DNA repair and genome integrity lead to chromosome instability disorders such as ataxia-telangiectasia, ATR-Seckel syndrome, AT-like disorder, Nijmegen breakage syndrome, Bloom syndrome, FA, and breast and ovarian cancers respectively. Interestingly, RAD51 paralog mutations are reported in patients with FA-like disorder and various types of cancers including breast and ovarian cancers. Mono-allelic germline mutations in all RAD51 paralogs are reported to cause cancer in addition to the reported cases of FA-like disorder with bi-allelic germline mutations in RAD51C and XRCC2. In accordance, the last section of the chapter has been dedicated to describe the genetics of breast and ovarian cancers and the known functions of tumor suppressors such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and RAD51 paralogs in the protection of genome. Despite the identification of five RAD51 paralogs nearly two decades ago, the molecular mechanism(s) by which RAD51 paralogs regulate HR and genome maintenance remain obscure. To gain insights into the molecular mechanisms of RAD51 paralogs in DNA damage responses and their link with genetic diseases and cancer, the following objectives were laid for my PhD thesis: 1) To understand the functional role of RAD51 paralog RAD51C in FA pathway of ICL repair and DNA damage signalling. 2) To dissect the ATM/ATR mediated targeting of RAD51 paralog XRCC3 in the repair of DSBs and intra S-phase checkpoint. 3) To uncover the replication restart pathway after transient replication pause and the involvement of distinct complexes of RAD51 paralogs in the protection of replication forks. 4) To design photoinducible ICL agent that can be activated by visible light for targeted cancer therapy. Chapter II: Distinct roles of FANCO/RAD51C protein in DNA damage signaling and repair: Implications for Fanconi anemia and breast cancer susceptibility RAD51C, a RAD51 paralog has been implicated in HR. However, the underlying mechanism by which RAD51C regulates HR mediated DNA repair is elusive. In 2010, a study identified biallelic mutation in RAD51C leading to FA-like disorder, whereas a second study reported monoallelic mutations in RAD51C associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. However, the role of RAD51C in the FA pathway of DNA cross-link repair and as a tumor suppressor remained obscure. To understand the role of RAD51C in FA pathway of ICL repair and DNA damage response, we employed genetic, biochemical and cell biological approaches to dissect out the functions of RAD51C in genome maintenance. In our study, we observed that RAD51C deficiency leads to ICL sensitivity, chromatid-type errors, and G2/M accumulation, which are hallmarks of the FA phenotype. We found that RAD51C is dispensable for ICL unhooking and FANCD2 monoubiquitination but is essential for HR, confirming the downstream role of RAD51C in ICL repair. Furthermore, we demonstrated that RAD51C plays a vital role in the HR-mediated repair of DSBs associated with replication. Finally, we showed that RAD51C participates in ICL and DSB induced DNA damage signaling and controls intra-S-phase checkpoint through CHK2 activation. Our analyses with pathological mutants of RAD51C displayed that RAD51C regulates HR and DNA damage signaling distinctly. Together, these results unravel the critical role of RAD51C in the FA pathway of ICL repair and as a tumor suppressor. Chapter III: ATM-and ATR-mediated phosphorylation of XRCC3 regulates DNA double-strand break-induced checkpoint activation and repair The RAD51 paralogs XRCC3 and RAD51C have been implicated in HR and DNA damage responses, but the molecular mechanism of their participation in these pathways remained obscured. In our study, we showed that an SQ motif serine 225 in XRCC3 is phosphorylated by ATR kinase in an ATM signaling pathway. We found that RAD51C in CX3 complex but not in BCDX2 complex is essential for XRCC3 phosphorylation, and this modification follows end resection and is specific to S and G2 phases. XRCC3 phosphorylation was found to be required for chromatin loading and stabilization of RAD51 and HR-mediated repair of DSBs. Notably, in response to DSBs, XRCC3 participates in the intra-S-phase checkpoint following its phosphorylation and in the G2/M checkpoint independently of its phosphorylation. Strikingly, we found that XRCC3 distinctly regulates recovery of stalled and collapsed replication forks such that phosphorylation was required for the HR-mediated recovery of collapsed replication forks but is dispensable for the recovery of stalled replication forks. Together, our findings suggest that XRCC3 is a new player in the ATM/ATR-induced DNA damage responses to control checkpoint and HR-mediated repair. Chapter IV: RAD51 paralogs protect stalled forks and mediate replication restart in an FA-BRCA independent manner Mammalian RAD51 paralogs RAD51 B, C, D, XRCC2 and XRCC3 are critical for genome maintenance. To understand the crucial roles of RAD51 paralogs during spontaneously arising DNA damage, we have studied the RAD51 paralogs assembly during replication and examined the replication fork stability and its restart. We found that RAD51 paralogs are enriched onto the S-phase chromatin spontaneously. Interestingly, the number of 53BP1 nuclear bodies in G1-phase and micro-nucleation which serve as markers for under replicated lesions increases after genetic ablation of RAD51C, XRCC2 and XRCC3. Furthermore, we showed that RAD51 paralogs are specifically enriched at two major fragile sites FRA3B and FRA16D after replication fork stalling. We found that all five RAD51 paralogs bind to nascent DNA strands after replication fork stalling and protect the fork. Nascent replication tracts created before fork stalling with hydroxyurea degrade in the absence of RAD51 paralogs but remain stable in wild-type cells. This function was dependent on ATP binding at the walker A motif of RAD51 paralogs. Our results also suggested that RAD51 paralogs assemble into BCDX2 complex to prevent generation of DSBs at stalled replication forks, thereby safeguarding the pre-assembled replisome from the action of nucleases. Strikingly, we showed that RAD51C and XRCC3 in complex with FANCM promote the restart of stalled replication forks in an ATP hydrolysis dependent manner. Moreover, RAD51C R258H mutation that was identified in FA-like disorder abrogates the interaction of RAD51C with FANCM and XRCC3, and prevents fork restart. Thus, assembly of RAD51 paralogs in different complexes prevents nucleolytic degradation of stalled replication forks and promotes restart to maintain genomic integrity. Chapter V: Trans-dichlorooxovandium(IV) complex as a potent photoinducible DNA interstrand crosslinker for targeted cancer therapy Although DNA ICL agents such as MMC, cisplatin and psoralen are known to serve as anticancer drugs, these agents affect normal cells as well. Moreover, tumor resistance to these agents has been reported. We have designed and synthesized a novel photoinducible DNA crosslinking agent (ICL-2) which is a derivative of oxovanadiumterpyridine complex with two chlorides in trans position. We found that ICL-2 can be activated by UV-A and visible light to enable DNA ICLs. ICL-2 efficiently activated FA pathway of ICL repair. Strikingly, photoinduction of ICL-2 induces prolonged activation of cell cycle checkpoint and high degree of cell death in FA pathway defective cells. Moreover, we showed that ICL-2 specifically targets cells that express pathological RAD51C mutants. Our findings suggest that ICL-2 can be potentially used for targeted cancer therapy in patients with gene mutations in FA and HR pathway.
- Biochemistry (BC)