Alternative NHEJ pathway proteins as components of MYCN oncogenic activity in human neural crest stem cell differentiation: implications for neuroblastoma initiation.
ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma is a cancer of neural crest stem cell (NCSC) lineage. Signaling pathways that regulate NCSC differentiation have been implicated in neuroblastoma tumorigenesis. This is exemplified by MYCN oncogene targets that balance proliferation, differentiation, and cell death similarly in normal NCSC and in high-risk neuroblastoma. Our previous work discovered a survival mechanism by which MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma circumvents cell death by upregulating components of the error-prone non-canonical alternative nonhomologous end-joining (alt-NHEJ) DNA repair pathway. Similar to proliferating stem cells, high-risk neuroblastoma cells have enhanced DNA repair capacity, overcoming DNA damage with higher repair efficiency than somatic cells. Adequate DNA maintenance is required for lineage protection as stem cells proliferate and during tumor progression to overcome oncogene-induced replication stress. On this basis, we hypothesized that alt-NHEJ overexpression in neuroblastoma is a cancer cell survival mechanism that originates from DNA repair systems of NCSC, the presumed progenitor cell of origin. A human NCSC model was generated in which inducible MYCN triggered an immortalized phenotype capable of forming metastatic neuroectodermal tumors in mice, resembling human neuroblastoma. Critical alt-NHEJ components (DNA Ligase III, DNA Ligase I, and Poly [ADP-ribose polymerase 1]) were highly expressed in normal early NCSC, and decreased as cells became terminally differentiated. Constitutive MYCN expression maintained high alt-NHEJ protein expression, preserving the expression pattern of the immature neural phenotype. siRNA knockdown of alt-NHEJ components reversed MYCN effects on NCSC proliferation, invasion, and migration. DNA Ligase III, Ligase I, and PARP1 silencing significantly decreased neuroblastoma markers expression (TH, Phox2b, and TRKB). These results utilized the first human NCSC model of neuroblastoma to uncover an important link between MYCN and alt-NHEJ expression in developmental tumor initiation, setting precedence to investigate alt-NHEJ repair mechanics in neuroblastoma DNA maintenance.
Project description:Resistance to imatinib (IM) and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI)s is an increasing problem in leukemias caused by expression of BCR-ABL1. As chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cell lines expressing BCR-ABL1 utilize an alternative non-homologous end-joining pathway (ALT NHEJ) to repair DNA double-strand breaks (DSB)s, we asked whether this repair pathway is a novel therapeutic target in TKI-resistant disease. Notably, the steady state levels of two ALT NHEJ proteins, poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) and DNA ligase III?, were increased in the BCR-ABL1-positive CML cell line K562 and, to a greater extent, in its imatinib-resistant (IMR) derivative. Incubation of these cell lines with a combination of DNA ligase and PARP inhibitors inhibited ALT NHEJ and selectively decreased survival with the effect being greater in the IMR derivative. Similar results were obtained with TKI-resistant derivatives of two hematopoietic cell lines that had been engineered to stably express BCR-ABL1. Together our results show that the sensitivity of cell lines expressing BCR-ABL1 to the combination of DNA ligase and PARP inhibitors correlates with the steady state levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III?, and ALT NHEJ activity. Importantly, analysis of clinical samples from CML patients confirmed that the expression levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III? correlated with the sensitivity to the DNA repair inhibitor combination. Thus, the expression levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III? serve as biomarkers to identify a subgroup of CML patients who may be candidates for therapies that target the ALT NHEJ pathway when treatment with TKIs has failed.
Project description:Although hereditary breast cancers have defects in the DNA damage response that result in genomic instability, DNA repair abnormalities in sporadic breast cancers have not been extensively characterized. Recently, we showed that, relative to nontumorigenic breast epithelial MCF10A cells, estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) MCF7 breast cancer cells and progesterone receptor-positive (PR+) MCF7 breast cancer cells have reduced steady-state levels of DNA ligase IV, a component of the major DNA-protein kinase (PK)-dependent nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway, whereas the steady-state level of DNA ligase III?, a component of the highly error-prone alternative NHEJ (ALT NHEJ) pathway, is increased. Here, we show that tamoxifen- and aromatase-resistant derivatives of MCF7 cells and ER(-)/PR(-) cells have even higher steady-state levels of DNA ligase III? and increased levels of PARP1, another ALT NHEJ component. This results in increased dependence upon microhomology-mediated ALT NHEJ to repair DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) and the accumulation of chromosomal deletions. Notably, therapy-resistant derivatives of MCF7 cells and ER(-)/PR(-) cells exhibited significantly increased sensitivity to a combination of PARP and DNA ligase III inhibitors that increased the number of DSBs. Biopsies from ER(-)/PR(-) tumors had elevated levels of ALT NHEJ and reduced levels of DNA-PK-dependent NHEJ factors. Thus, our results show that ALT NHEJ is a novel therapeutic target in breast cancers that are resistant to frontline therapies and suggest that changes in NHEJ protein levels may serve as biomarkers to identify tumors that are candidates for this therapeutic approach.
Project description:Leukemias expressing the constitutively activated tyrosine kinases (TK) BCR-ABL1 and FLT3/ITD activate signaling pathways that increase genomic instability through generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), and error-prone repair. The nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway is a major pathway for DSB repair and is highly aberrant in TK-activated leukemias; an alternative form of NHEJ (ALT-NHEJ) predominates, evidenced by increased expression of DNA ligase III? (LIG3) and PARP1, increased frequency of large genomic deletions, and repair using DNA sequence microhomologies. This study, for the first time, demonstrates that the TK target c-MYC plays a role in transcriptional activation and subsequent expression of LIG3 and PARP1 and contributes to the increased error-prone repair observed in TK-activated leukemias. c-MYC negatively regulates microRNAs miR-150 and miR-22, which demonstrate an inverse correlation with LIG3 and PARP1 expression in primary and cultured leukemia cells and chronic myelogenous leukemia human patient samples. Notably, inhibition of c-MYC and overexpression of miR-150 and -22 decreases ALT-NHEJ activity. Thus, BCR-ABL1 or FLT3/ITD induces c-MYC expression, leading to genomic instability via augmented expression of ALT-NHEJ repair factors that generate repair errors.In the context of TK-activated leukemias, c-MYC contributes to aberrant DNA repair through downstream targets LIG3 and PARP1, which represent viable and attractive therapeutic targets.
Project description:Recent studies have implicated a poorly defined alternative pathway of nonhomologous end joining (alt-NHEJ) in the generation of large deletions and chromosomal translocations that are frequently observed in cancer cells. Here, we describe an interaction between two factors, hMre11/hRad50/Nbs1 (MRN) and DNA ligase III?/XRCC1, that have been linked with alt-NHEJ. Expression of DNA ligase III? and the association between MRN and DNA ligase III?/XRCC1 are altered in cell lines defective in the major NHEJ pathway. Most notably, DNA damage induced the association of these factors in DNA ligase IV-deficient cells. MRN interacts with DNA ligase III?/XRCC1, stimulating intermolecular ligation, and together these proteins join incompatible DNA ends in a reaction that mimics alt-NHEJ. Thus, our results provide novel mechanistic insights into the alt-NHEJ pathway that not only contributes to genome instability in cancer cells but may also be a therapeutic target.
Project description: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:Accumulating evidence suggests that dysregulation of the DNA non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair system is a causative factor in many cancers, including high-risk neuroblastoma. A number of studies have shown that polymorphisms in the DNA ligase III (LIG3) gene, one of the key genes in the error-prone alternative NHEJ (a-NHEJ) pathway for DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, are associated with a variety of cancers. Nevertheless, whether LIG3 polymorphisms contribute to neuroblastoma risk remains unknown. We investigated the correlation between neuroblastoma susceptibility and two LIG3 polymorphisms (rs1052536 C>T and rs4796030 A>C) among 469 neuroblastoma patients and 998 healthy controls from China. Our results failed to detect any relationship between the analyzed SNPs and neuroblastoma risk in either overall analysis or stratification analysis. These results suggest that rs1052536 C>T and rs4796030 A>C are unrelated to neuroblastoma susceptibility in the Chinese population. Further studies with larger sample sizes and multiple ethnicities are necessary to verify our results.
Project description:Targeting glutamine metabolism has emerged as a potential therapeutic strategy for Myc overexpressing cancer cells. Myc proteins contribute to an aggressive neuroblastoma phenotype. Radiotherapy is one of the treatment modalities for high-risk neuroblastoma patients. Herein, we investigated the effect of glutamine deprivation in combination with irradiation in neuroblastoma cells representative of high-risk disease and studied the role of Myc member interplay in regulating neuroblastoma cell radioresistance. Methods: Cell proliferation and viability assays were used to establish the effect of glutamine deprivation in neuroblastoma cells expressing c-Myc or MycN. Gene silencing and overexpression were used to modulate the expression of Myc genes to determine their role in neuroblastoma radioresistance. qPCR and western blot investigated interplay between expression of Myc members. The impact of glutamine deprivation on cell response following irradiation was explored using a radiobiological 3D colony assay. DNA repair gene pathways as well as CSC-related genes were studied by qPCR array. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and glutathione (GSH) levels were detected by fluorescence and luminescence probes respectively. Cancer-stem cell (CSC) properties were investigated by sphere-forming assay and flow cytometry to quantify CSC markers. Expression of DNA repair genes and CSC-related genes was analysed by mining publicly available patient datasets. Results: Our results showed that glutamine deprivation decreased neuroblastoma cell proliferation and viability and modulated Myc member expression. We then demonstrated for the first time that combined glutamine deprivation with irradiation led to a selective radioresistance of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells. By exploring the underlying mechanism of neuroblastoma radioresistance properties, our results highlight interplay between c-Myc and MycN expression suggesting compensatory mechanisms in Myc proteins leading to radioresistance in MYCN-amplified cells. This result was associated with the ability of MYCN-amplified cells to dysregulate the DNA repair gene pathway, maintain GSH and ROS levels and to increase the CSC-like population and properties. Conversely, glutamine deprivation led to radiosensitization in non-MYCN amplified cell lines through a disruption of the cell redox balance and a trend to decrease in the CSC-like populations. Mining publicly available gene expression dataset obtained from pediatric neuroblastoma patients, we identified a correlation pattern between Myc members and CSC-related genes as well as a specific group of DNA repair gene pathways. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that MycN and c-Myc tightly cooperate in regulation of the neuroblastoma CSC phenotypes and radioresistance upon glutamine deprivation. Pharmacologically, strategies targeting glutamine metabolism may prove beneficial in Myc-driven tumors. Consideration of MycN/c-Myc status in selecting neuroblastoma patients for glutamine metabolism treatment will be important to avoid potential radioresistance.
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:Mammalian polymerase theta (Pol?) is a multifunctional enzyme that promotes error-prone DNA repair by alternative nonhomologous end joining (alt-NHEJ). Here we present structure-function analyses that reveal that, in addition to the polymerase domain, Pol?-helicase activity plays a central role during double-strand break (DSB) repair. Our results show that the helicase domain promotes chromosomal translocations by alt-NHEJ in mouse embryonic stem cells and also suppresses CRISPR-Cas9- mediated gene targeting by homologous recombination (HR). In vitro assays demonstrate that Pol?-helicase activity facilitates the removal of RPA from resected DSBs to allow their annealing and subsequent joining by alt-NHEJ. Consistent with an antagonistic role for RPA during alt-NHEJ, inhibition of RPA1 enhances end joining and suppresses recombination. Taken together, our results reveal that the balance between HR and alt-NHEJ is controlled by opposing activities of Pol? and RPA, providing further insight into the regulation of repair-pathway choice in mammalian cells.
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.