Alternative end-joining is suppressed by the canonical NHEJ component Xrcc4-ligase IV during chromosomal translocation formation.
ABSTRACT: Chromosomal translocations in hematologic and mesenchymal tumors form overwhelmingly by nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ). Canonical NHEJ, essential for the repair of radiation-induced and some programmed double-strand breaks (DSBs), requires the Xrcc4-ligase IV complex. For other DSBs, the requirement for Xrcc4-ligase IV is less stringent, suggesting the existence of alternative end-joining (alt-NHEJ) pathways. To understand the contributions of the canonical NHEJ and alt-NHEJ pathways, we examined translocation formation in cells deficient in Xrcc4-ligase IV. We found that Xrcc4-ligase IV is not required for but rather suppresses translocations. Translocation breakpoint junctions have similar characteristics in wild-type cells and cells deficient in Xrcc4-ligase IV, including an unchanged bias toward microhomology, unlike what is observed for intrachromosomal DSB repair. Complex insertions in some junctions show that joining can be iterative, encompassing successive processing steps before joining. Our results imply that alt-NHEJ is the primary mediator of translocation formation in mammalian cells.
Project description:Breakpoint junctions of the chromosomal translocations that occur in human cancers display hallmarks of nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ). In mouse cells, translocations are suppressed by canonical NHEJ (c-NHEJ) components, which include DNA ligase IV (LIG4), and instead arise from alternative NHEJ (alt-NHEJ). Here we used designer nucleases (ZFNs, TALENs, and CRISPR/Cas9) to introduce DSBs on two chromosomes to study translocation joining mechanisms in human cells. Remarkably, translocations were altered in cells deficient for LIG4 or its interacting protein XRCC4. Translocation junctions had significantly longer deletions and more microhomology, indicative of alt-NHEJ. Thus, unlike mouse cells, translocations in human cells are generated by c-NHEJ. Human cancer translocations induced by paired Cas9 nicks also showed a dependence on c-NHEJ, despite having distinct joining characteristics. These results demonstrate an unexpected and striking species-specific difference for common genomic rearrangements associated with tumorigenesis.
Project description:Class switch recombination (CSR) in B lymphocytes is initiated by introduction of multiple DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) into switch (S) regions that flank immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) constant region exons. CSR is completed by joining a DSB in the donor S mu to a DSB in a downstream acceptor S region (e.g., S gamma1) by end-joining. In normal cells, many CSR junctions are mediated by classical nonhomologous end-joining (C-NHEJ), which employs the Ku70/80 complex for DSB recognition and XRCC4/DNA ligase 4 for ligation. Alternative end-joining (A-EJ) mediates CSR, at reduced levels, in the absence of C-NHEJ, even in combined absence of Ku70 and ligase 4, demonstrating an A-EJ pathway totally distinct from C-NHEJ. Multiple DSBs are introduced into S mu during CSR, with some being rejoined or joined to each other to generate internal switch deletions (ISDs). In addition, S-region DSBs can be joined to other chromosomes to generate translocations, the level of which is increased by absence of a single C-NHEJ component (e.g., XRCC4). We asked whether ISD and S-region translocations occur in the complete absence of C-NHEJ (e.g., in Ku70/ligase 4 double-deficient B cells). We found, unexpectedly, that B-cell activation for CSR generates substantial ISD in both S mu and S gamma1 and that ISD in both is greatly increased by the absence of C-NHEJ. IgH chromosomal translocations to the c-myc oncogene also are augmented in the combined absence of Ku70 and ligase 4. We discuss the implications of these findings for A-EJ in normal and abnormal DSB repair.
Project description:Nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) is the primary DNA repair pathway thought to underlie chromosomal translocations and other genomic rearrangements in somatic cells. The canonical NHEJ pathway, including DNA ligase IV (Lig4), suppresses genomic instability and chromosomal translocations, leading to the notion that a poorly defined, alternative NHEJ (alt-NHEJ) pathway generates these rearrangements. Here, we investigate the DNA ligase requirement of chromosomal translocation formation in mouse cells. Mammals have two other DNA ligases, Lig1 and Lig3, in addition to Lig4. As deletion of Lig3 results in cellular lethality due to its requirement in mitochondria, we used recently developed cell lines deficient in nuclear Lig3 but rescued for mitochondrial DNA ligase activity. Further, zinc finger endonucleases were used to generate DNA breaks at endogenous loci to induce translocations. Unlike with Lig4 deficiency, which causes an increase in translocation frequency, translocations are reduced in frequency in the absence of Lig3. Residual translocations in Lig3-deficient cells do not show a bias toward use of pre-existing microhomology at the breakpoint junctions, unlike either wild-type or Lig4-deficient cells, consistent with the notion that alt-NHEJ is impaired with Lig3 loss. By contrast, Lig1 depletion in otherwise wild-type cells does not reduce translocations or affect microhomology use. However, translocations are further reduced in Lig3-deficient cells upon Lig1 knockdown, suggesting the existence of two alt-NHEJ pathways, one that is biased toward microhomology use and requires Lig3 and a back-up pathway which does not depend on microhomology and utilizes Lig1.
Project description:Classical nonhomologous DNA end-joining (C-NHEJ), which is a major DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway in mammalian cells, plays a dominant role in joining DSBs during Ig heavy chain (IgH) class switch recombination (CSR) in activated B lymphocytes. However, in B cells deficient for one or more requisite C-NHEJ factors, such as DNA ligase 4 (Lig4) or XRCC4, end-joining during CSR occurs by a distinct alternative end-joining (A-EJ) pathway. A-EJ also has been implicated in joining DSBs found in oncogenic chromosomal translocations. DNA ligase 3 (Lig3) and its cofactor XRCC1 are widely considered to be requisite A-EJ factors, based on biochemical studies or extrachromosomal substrate end-joining studies. However, potential roles for these factors in A-EJ of endogenous chromosomal DSBs have not been tested. Here, we report that Xrcc1 inactivation via conditional gene-targeted deletion in WT or XRCC4-deficient primary B cells does not have an impact on either CSR or IgH/c-myc translocations in activated B lymphocytes. Indeed, homozygous deletion of Xrcc1 does not impair A-EJ of I-SceI-induced DSBs in XRCC4-deficient pro-B-cell lines. Correspondingly, substantial depletion of Lig3 in Lig4-deficient primary B cells or B-cell lines does not impair A-EJ of CSR-mediated DSBs or formation of IgH/c-myc translocations. Our findings firmly demonstrate that XRCC1 is not a requisite factor for A-EJ of chromosomal DSBs and raise the possibility that DNA ligase 1 (Lig1) may contribute more to A-EJ than previously considered.
Project description:Recent studies have implicated DNA polymerases θ (Pol θ) and β (Pol β) as mediators of alternative nonhomologous end-joining (Alt-NHEJ) events, including chromosomal translocations. Here we identify subunits of the replicative DNA polymerase δ (Pol δ) as promoters of Alt-NHEJ that results in more extensive intrachromosomal mutations at a single double-strand break (DSB) and more frequent translocations between two DSBs. Depletion of the Pol δ accessory subunit POLD2 destabilizes the complex, resulting in degradation of both POLD1 and POLD3 in human cells. POLD2 depletion markedly reduces the frequency of translocations with sequence modifications but does not affect the frequency of translocations with exact joins. Using separation-of-function mutants, we show that both the DNA synthesis and exonuclease activities of the POLD1 subunit contribute to translocations. As described in yeast and unlike Pol θ, Pol δ also promotes homology-directed repair. Codepletion of POLD2 with 53BP1 nearly eliminates translocations. POLD1 and POLD2 each colocalize with phosphorylated H2AX at ionizing radiation-induced DSBs but not with 53BP1. Codepletion of POLD2 with either ligase 3 (LIG3) or ligase 4 (LIG4) does not further reduce translocation frequency compared to POLD2 depletion alone. Together, these data support a model in which Pol δ promotes Alt-NHEJ in human cells at DSBs, including translocations.
Project description:Classical nonhomologous end joining (C-NHEJ) repairs DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) throughout interphase but predominates in G1 phase when homologous recombination is unavailable. Complexes containing the Ku70/80 ("Ku") and XRCC4/ligase IV (Lig4) core C-NHEJ factors are required, respectively, for sensing and joining DSBs. While XRCC4/Lig4 are absolutely required for joining RAG1/2 endonuclease ("RAG")-initiated DSBs during V(D)J recombination in G1-phase progenitor lymphocytes, cycling cells deficient for XRCC4/Lig4 also can join chromosomal DSBs by alternative end-joining (A-EJ) pathways. Restriction of V(D)J recombination by XRCC4/Lig4-mediated joining has been attributed to RAG shepherding V(D)J DSBs exclusively into the C-NHEJ pathway. Here, we report that A-EJ of DSB ends generated by RAG1/2, Cas9:gRNA, and Zinc finger endonucleases in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cell lines is suppressed by Ku. Thus, while diverse DSBs remain largely as free broken ends in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cells, deletion of Ku70 increases DSB rejoining and translocation levels to those observed in Ku70-deficient counterparts. Correspondingly, while RAG-initiated V(D)J DSB joining is abrogated in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cell lines, joining of RAG-generated DSBs in Ku70-deficient and Ku70/Lig4 double-deficient lines occurs through a translocation-like A-EJ mechanism. Thus, in G1-arrested, Lig4-deficient progenitor B cells are functionally end-joining suppressed due to Ku-dependent blockage of A-EJ, potentially in association with G1-phase down-regulation of Lig1. Finally, we suggest that differential impacts of Ku deficiency versus Lig4 deficiency on V(D)J recombination, neuronal apoptosis, and embryonic development results from Ku-mediated inhibition of A-EJ in the G1 cell cycle phase in Lig4-deficient developing lymphocyte and neuronal cells.
Project description:XRCC4-like factor (XLF)--also known as Cernunnos--has recently been shown to be involved in non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), which is the main pathway for the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in mammalian cells. XLF is likely to enhance NHEJ by stimulating XRCC4-ligase IV-mediated joining of DSBs. Here, we report mechanistic details of XLF recruitment to DSBs. Live cell imaging combined with laser micro-irradiation showed that XLF is an early responder to DSBs and that Ku is essential for XLF recruitment to DSBs. Biochemical analysis showed that Ku-XLF interaction occurs on DNA and that Ku stimulates XLF binding to DNA. Unexpectedly, XRCC4 is dispensable for XLF recruitment to DSBs, although photobleaching analysis showed that XRCC4 stabilizes the binding of XLF to DSBs. Our observations showed the direct involvement of XLF in the dynamic assembly of the NHEJ machinery and provide mechanistic insights into DSB recognition.
Project description:Non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) is a major DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway that functions in all phases of the cell cycle. NHEJ repairs genotoxic and physiological DSBs, such as those generated by ionizing radiation and during V(D)J recombination at antigen receptor loci, respectively. DNA end joining by NHEJ relies on the core factors Ku70, Ku80, XRCC4, and DNA Ligase IV. Additional proteins also play important roles in NHEJ. The XRCC4-like factor (XLF) participates in NHEJ through its interaction with XRCC4, and XLF deficiency in humans leads to immunodeficiency and increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation. However, XLF is dispensable for NHEJ-mediated DSB repair during V(D)J recombination in murine lymphocytes, where it may have redundant functions with other DSB repair factors. Paralog of XRCC4 and XLF (PAXX) is a recently identified NHEJ factor that has structural similarity to XRCC4 and XLF. Here we show that PAXX is also dispensable for NHEJ during V(D)J recombination and during the repair of genotoxic DSBs in lymphocytes. However, a combined deficiency of PAXX and XLF blocks NHEJ with a severity comparable to that observed in DNA Ligase IV-deficient cells. Similar to XLF, PAXX interacts with Ku through its C-terminal region, and mutations that disrupt Ku binding prevent PAXX from promoting NHEJ in XLF-deficient lymphocytes. Our findings suggest that the PAXX and XLF proteins may have redundant functions during NHEJ.
Project description:The internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) receptor found in acute myeloid leukemia patients are associated with poor prognosis. Although DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are mainly repaired by the DNA-PK-dependent nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway in normal mammalian cells, an alternative and less well-defined NHEJ pathway, characterized by microhomology at the repair junctions, play a role in the generation of deletions and translocations leading to cancer progression. Here we report that in FLT3/ITD-expressing cell lines and bone marrow mononuclear cells from FLT3/ITD knock-in mice, end-joining of DSBs occurs at microhomologous sequences resulting in a high frequency of DNA deletions. Strikingly, levels of Ku proteins, key components of the main NHEJ pathway, are decreased in FLT3/ITD(+) cell lines and murine FLT3/ITD bone marrow mononuclear cells. Concomitantly, levels of DNA ligase III?, a component of ALT NHEJ, are increased in FLT3/ITD-expressing cells. Cells treated with a FLT3 inhibitor demonstrate decreased DNA ligase III? and a reduction in DNA deletions, suggesting that FLT3 signaling regulates the pathways by which DSBs are repaired. Thus, therapy to inhibit FLT3/ITD signaling and/or DNA ligase III? may lead to repair that reduces repair errors and genomic instability.
Project description:Multiple myeloma (MM) is a hematological malignancy characterized by frequent chromosome abnormalities. However, the molecular basis for this genome instability remains unknown. Since both impaired and hyperactive double strand break (DSB) repair pathways can result in DNA rearrangements, we investigated the functionality of DSB repair in MM cells. Repair kinetics of ionizing-radiation (IR)-induced DSBs was similar in MM and normal control lymphoblastoid cell lines, as revealed by the comet assay. However, four out of seven MM cell lines analyzed exhibited a subset of persistent DSBs, marked by ?-H2AX and Rad51 foci that elicited a prolonged G2/M DNA damage checkpoint activation and hypersensitivity to IR, especially in the presence of checkpoint inhibitors. An analysis of the proteins involved in DSB repair in MM cells revealed upregulation of DNA-PKcs, Artemis and XRCC4, that participate in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), and Rad51, involved in homologous recombination (HR). Accordingly, activity of both NHEJ and HR were elevated in MM cells compared to controls, as determined by in vivo functional assays. Interestingly, levels of proteins involved in a highly mutagenic, translocation-promoting, alternative NHEJ subpathway (Alt-NHEJ) were also increased in all MM cell lines, with the Alt-NHEJ protein DNA ligase III?, also overexpressed in several plasma cell samples isolated from MM patients. Overactivation of the Alt-NHEJ pathway was revealed in MM cells by larger deletions and higher sequence microhomology at repair junctions, which were reduced by chemical inhibition of the pathway. Taken together, our results uncover a deregulated DSB repair in MM that might underlie the characteristic genome instability of the disease, and could be therapeutically exploited.