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Mutat Res. 2009 Jul 31;668(1-2):54-72. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Feb 21.

Cellular and molecular consequences of defective Fanconi anemia proteins in replication-coupled DNA repair: mechanistic insights.

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  • 1Biology and Biotechnology Division, L452, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, Livermore, CA 94551-0808, United States.


The Fanconi anemia (FA) molecular network consists of 15 "FANC" proteins, of which 13 are associated with mutations in patients with this cancer-prone chromosome instability disorder. Whereas historically the common phenotype associated with FA mutations is marked sensitivity to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents, the literature supports a more global role for FANC proteins in coping with diverse stresses encountered by replicative polymerases. We have attempted to reconcile and integrate numerous observations into a model in which FANC proteins coordinate the following physiological events during DNA crosslink repair: (a) activating a FANCM-ATR-dependent S-phase checkpoint, (b) mediating enzymatic replication-fork breakage and crosslink unhooking, (c) filling the resulting gap by translesion synthesis (TLS) by error-prone polymerase(s), and (d) restoring the resulting one-ended double-strand break by homologous recombination repair (HRR). The FANC core subcomplex (FANCA, B, C, E, F, G, L, FAAP100) promotes TLS for both crosslink and non-crosslink damage such as spontaneous oxidative base damage, UV-C photoproducts, and alkylated bases. TLS likely helps prevent stalled replication forks from breaking, thereby maintaining chromosome continuity. Diverse DNA damages and replication inhibitors result in monoubiquitination of the FANCD2-FANCI complex by the FANCL ubiquitin ligase activity of the core subcomplex upon its recruitment to chromatin by the FANCM-FAAP24 heterodimeric translocase. We speculate that this translocase activity acts as the primary damage sensor and helps remodel blocked replication forks to facilitate checkpoint activation and repair. Monoubiquitination of FANCD2-FANCI is needed for promoting HRR, in which the FANCD1/BRCA2 and FANCN/PALB2 proteins act at an early step. We conclude that the core subcomplex is required for both TLS and HRR occurring separately for non-crosslink damages and for both events during crosslink repair. The FANCJ/BRIP1/BACH1 helicase functions in association with BRCA1 and may remove structural barriers to replication, such as guanine quadruplex structures, and/or assist in crosslink unhooking.

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