HPV-16 E7 reveals a link between DNA replication stress, fanconi anemia D2 protein, and alternative lengthening of telomere-associated promyelocytic leukemia bodies.
ABSTRACT: Expression of the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV-16) E7 oncoprotein extends the life span of primary human keratinocytes and partially restores telomere length in the absence of telomerase. The molecular basis of this activity is incompletely understood. Here, we show that HPV-16 E7 induces an increased formation of alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT)-associated promyelocytic leukemia bodies (APBs) in early passage primary human keratinocytes as well as HPV-negative tumor cells. This activity was found to require sequences of HPV-16 E7 involved in degradation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein as well as regions in the COOH terminus. HPV-16 E7-induced APBs contained ssDNA and several proteins that are involved in the response to DNA replication stress, most notably the Fanconi anemia D2 protein (FANCD2) as well as BRCA2 and MUS81. In line with these results, we found that FANCD2-containing APBs form in an ATR-dependent manner in HPV-16 E7-expressing cells. To directly show a role of FANCD2 in ALT, we provide evidence that knockdown of FANCD2 rapidly causes telomere dysfunction in cells that rely on ALT to maintain telomeres. Taken together, our results suggest a novel link between replication stress and recombination-based telomere maintenance that may play a role in HPV-16 E7-mediated extension of host cell life span and immortalization.
Project description:Telomeres consist of TTAGGG repeats bound by protein complexes that serve to protect the natural end of linear chromosomes. Most cells maintain telomere repeat lengths by using the enzyme telomerase, although there are some cancer cells that use a telomerase-independent mechanism of telomere extension, termed alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). Cells that use ALT are characterized, in part, by the presence of specialized PML nuclear bodies called ALT-associated PML bodies (APBs). APBs localize to and cluster telomeric ends together with telomeric and DNA damage factors, which led to the proposal that these bodies act as a platform on which ALT can occur. However, the necessity of APBs and their function in the ALT pathway has remained unclear. Here, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to delete PML and APB components from ALT-positive cells to cleanly define the function of APBs in ALT. We found that PML is required for the ALT mechanism, and that this necessity stems from APBs' role in localizing the BLM-TOP3A-RMI (BTR) complex to ALT telomere ends. Strikingly, recruitment of the BTR complex to telomeres in a PML-independent manner bypasses the need for PML in the ALT pathway, suggesting that BTR localization to telomeres is sufficient to sustain ALT activity.
Project description:Promyelocytic leukemia (PML) bodies (also called ND10) are dynamic nuclear structures implicated in a wide variety of cellular processes. ALT-associated PML bodies (APBs) are specialized PML bodies found exclusively in telomerase-negative tumors in which telomeres are maintained by recombination-based alternative (ALT) mechanisms. Although it has been suggested that APBs are directly implicated in telomere metabolism of ALT cells, their precise role and structure have remained elusive. Here we show that PML bodies in ALT cells associate with chromosome ends forming small, spatially well-defined clusters, containing on average 2-5 telomeres. Using an innovative approach that gently enlarges PML bodies in living cells while retaining their overall organization, we show that this physical enlargement of APBs spatially resolves the single telomeres in the cluster, but does not perturb the potential of the APB to recruit chromosome extremities. We show that telomere clustering in PML bodies is cell-cycle regulated and that unique telomeres within a cluster associate with recombination proteins. Enlargement of APBs induced the accumulation of telomere-telomere recombination intermediates visible on metaphase spreads and connecting heterologous chromosomes. The strand composition of these recombination intermediates indicated that this recombination is constrained to a narrow time window in the cell cycle following replication. These data provide strong evidence that PML bodies are not only a marker for ALT cells but play a direct role in telomere recombination, both by bringing together chromosome ends and by promoting telomere-telomere interactions between heterologous chromosomes.
Project description:Both Fanconi anemia (FA) and telomere dysfunction are associated with chromosome instability and an increased risk of cancer. Because of these similarities, we have investigated whether there is a relationship between the FA protein, FANCD2 and telomeres. We find that FANCD2 nuclear foci colocalize with telomeres and PML bodies in immortalized telomerase-negative cells. These cells maintain telomeres by alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). In contrast, FANCD2 does not colocalize with telomeres or PML bodies in cells which express telomerase. Using a siRNA approach we find that FANCA and FANCL, which are components of the FA nuclear core complex, regulate FANCD2 monoubiquitination and the telomeric localization of FANCD2 in ALT cells. Transient depletion of FANCD2, or FANCA, results in a dramatic loss of detectable telomeres in ALT cells but not in telomerase-expressing cells. Furthermore, telomere loss following depletion of these proteins in ALT cells is associated with decreased homologous recombination between telomeres (T-SCE). Thus, the FA pathway has a novel function in ALT telomere maintenance related to DNA repair. ALT telomere maintenance is therefore one mechanism by which monoubiquitinated FANCD2 may promote genetic stability.
Project description:The majority of cancer cells rely on elevated telomerase expression and activity for rapid growth and proliferation. Telomerase-negative cancer cells, by contrast, often employ the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway to maintain telomeres. ALT cells are characterized by long and dynamic telomeres and the presence of ALT-associated promyelocytic leukemia (PML) bodies (APBs). Previous work has shown the importance of APBs to the ALT pathway, but their formation and precise role remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that a homeobox-containing protein known as HMBOX1 can directly bind telomeric double-stranded DNA and associate with PML nuclear bodies. Hence, we renamed this protein TAH1 for telomere-associated homeobox-containing protein 1. TAH1 knockdown significantly reduced the number of APBs and led to an increase in DNA damage response signals at telomeres. Importantly, TAH1 inhibition also notably reduced the presence of telomere C-circles, indicating altered ALT activity. Our findings point to TAH1 as a novel link between pathways that regulate DNA damage responses, PML nuclear bodies, and telomere homeostasis in ALT cells, and provide insight into how ALT cells may achieve sustained growth and proliferation independent of the telomerase.
Project description:Telomerase-free cancer cells employ a recombination-based alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway that depends on ALT-associated promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies (APBs), whose function is unclear. We find that APBs behave as liquid condensates in response to telomere DNA damage, suggesting two potential functions: condensation to enrich DNA repair factors and coalescence to cluster telomeres. To test these models, we developed a chemically induced dimerization approach to induce de novo APB condensation in live cells without DNA damage. We show that telomere-binding protein sumoylation nucleates APB condensation via interactions between small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) and SUMO interaction motif (SIM), and that APB coalescence drives telomere clustering. The induced APBs lack DNA repair factors, indicating that APB functions in promoting telomere clustering can be uncoupled from enriching DNA repair factors. Indeed, telomere clustering relies only on liquid properties of the condensate, as an alternative condensation chemistry also induces clustering independent of sumoylation. Our findings introduce a chemical dimerization approach to manipulate phase separation and demonstrate how the material properties and chemical composition of APBs independently contribute to ALT, suggesting a general framework for how chromatin condensates promote cellular functions.
Project description:Alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) is known to use homologous recombination (HR) to replicate telomeric DNA in a telomerase-independent manner. However, the detailed process remains largely undefined. It was reported that nuclear receptors COUP-TFII and TR4 are recruited to the enriched GGGTCA variant repeats embedded within ALT telomeres, implicating nuclear receptors in regulating ALT activity. Here, we identified a function of nuclear receptors in ALT telomere maintenance that involves a direct interaction between COUP-TFII/TR4 and FANCD2, the key protein in the Fanconi anemia (FA) DNA repair pathway. The COUP-TFII/TR4-FANCD2 complex actively induces the DNA damage response by recruiting endonuclease MUS81 and promoting the loading of the PCNA-POLD3 replication complex in ALT telomeres. Furthermore, the COUP-TFII/TR4-mediated ALT telomere pathway does not require the FA core complex or the monoubiquitylation of FANCD2, key steps in the canonical FA pathway. Thus, our findings reveal that COUP-TFII/TR4 regulates ALT telomere maintenance through a novel noncanonical FANCD2 pathway.
Project description:In Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) cell lines, specific nuclear bodies called APBs (ALT-associated PML bodies) concentrate telomeric DNA, shelterin components and recombination factors associated with telomere recombination. Topoisomerase IIIalpha (Topo III) is an essential telomeric-associated factor in ALT cells. We show here that the binding of Topo III to telomeric G-overhang is modulated by G-quadruplex formation. Topo III binding to G-quadruplex-forming oligonucleotides was strongly inhibited by telomestatin, a potent and specific G-quadruplex ligand. In ALT cells, telomestatin treatment resulted in the depletion of the Topo III/BLM/TRF2 complex and the disruption of APBs and led to the segregation of PML, shelterin components and Topo III. Interestingly, a DNA damage response was observed at telomeres in telomestatin-treated cells. These data indicate the importance of G-quadruplex stabilization during telomere maintenance in ALT cells. The function of TRF2/Topo III/BLM in the resolution of replication intermediates at telomeres is discussed.
Project description:Maintaining functional telomeres is important for long-term proliferation of cells. About 15% of cancer cells are telomerase-negative and activate the alternative-lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway to maintain their telomeres. Recent studies have shown that the human CTC1/STN1/TEN1 complex (CST) plays a multi-faceted role in telomere maintenance in telomerase-expressing cancer cells. However, the role of CST in telomere maintenance in ALT cells is unclear. Here, we report that human CST forms a functional complex localizing in the ALT-associated PML bodies (APBs) in ALT cells throughout the cell cycle. Suppression of CST induces telomere instabilities including telomere fragility and elevates telomeric DNA recombination, leading to telomere dysfunction. In addition, CST deficiency significantly diminishes the abundance of extrachromosomal circular telomere DNA known as C-circles and t-circles. Suppression of CST also results in multinucleation in ALT cells and impairs cell proliferation. Our findings imply that the CST complex plays an important role in regulating telomere maintenance in ALT cells.
Project description:Cancer cells maintain their telomeres by either re-activating telomerase or adopting the homologous recombination (HR)-based Alternative Lengthening of Telomere (ALT) pathway. Among the many prominent features of ALT cells, C-circles (CC) formation is considered to be the most specific and quantifiable biomarker of ALT. However, the molecular mechanism behind the initiation and maintenance of CC formation in ALT cells is still largely unknown. We reported previously that depletion of the FANCM complex (FANCM-FAAP24-MHF1&2) in ALT cells induced pronounced replication stress, which primarily takes place at their telomeres. Here, we characterized the changes in ALT associated phenotypes in cells deficient of the FANCM complex. We found that depletion of FAAP24 or FANCM, but not MHF1&2, induces a dramatic increase of CC formation. Most importantly, we identified multiple DNA damage response (DDR) and DNA repair pathways that stimulate the dramatic increase of CC formation in FANCM deficient cells, including the dissolvase complex (BLM-TOP3A-RMI1/2, or BTR), DNA damage checkpoint kinases (ATR and Chk1), HR proteins (BRCA2, PALB2, and Rad51), as well as proteins involved in Break-Induced Replication (BIR) (POLD1 and POLD3). In addition, FANCD2, another Fanconi Anemia (FA) protein, is also required for CC formation, likely through promoting the recruitment of BLM to the replication stressed ALT telomeres. Finally, we demonstrated that TERRA R-loops accumulate at telomeres in FANCM deficient ALT cells and downregulation of which attenuates the ALT-associated PML bodies (APBs), replication stress and CC formation. Taken together, our data suggest that FANCM prevents replisomes from stalling/collapsing at ALT telomeres by disrupting TERRA R-loops.
Project description:Telomerase-negative cancer cells maintain their telomeres through the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway. Although a growing body of evidence demonstrates that the ALT mechanism is a post-replicative telomere recombination process, molecular details of this pathway are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that MUS81, a DNA structure specific recombination endonuclease, has a key role in the maintenance of telomeres in human ALT cells. We find that MUS81 specifically localizes to ALT-associated promyelocytic leukaemia (PML) nuclear bodies (APBs) and associates with telomeric DNA in ALT cells, which is enriched during the G2 phase of the cell cycle. Depletion of MUS81 results in the reduction of ALT-specific telomere recombination and leads to proliferation arrest of ALT cells. In addition, the endonuclease activity of MUS81 is required for recombination-based ALT cell survival, and the interaction of MUS81 with the telomeric repeat-binding factor TRF2 regulates this enzymatic activity, thereby maintaining telomere recombination. Thus, our results suggest that MUS81 is involved in the maintenance of ALT cell survival at least in part by homologous recombination of telomeres.