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J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2012;30(3):347-61. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2012.680034. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

The molecular origin of the MMR-dependent apoptosis pathway from dynamics analysis of MutSα-DNA complexes.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC 27106, USA.


The cellular response to DNA damage signaling by mismatch-repair (MMR) proteins is incompletely understood. It is generally accepted that MMR-dependent apoptosis pathway in response to DNA damage detection is independent of MMR's DNA repair function. In this study, we investigate correlated motions in response to the binding of mismatched and platinum cross-linked DNA fragments by MutSα, as derived from 50 ns molecular dynamics simulations. The protein dynamics in response to the mismatched and damaged DNA recognition suggests that MutSα signals their recognition through independent pathways providing evidence for the molecular origin of the MMR-dependent apoptosis. MSH2 subunit is indicated to play a key role in signaling both mismatched and damaged DNA recognition; localized and collective motions within the protein allow identifying sites on the MSH2 surface possible involved in recruiting proteins responsible for downstream events. Unlike in the mismatch complex, predicted key communication sites specific for the damage recognition are on the list of known cancer-causing mutations or deletions. This confirms MSH2's role in signaling DNA damage-induced apoptosis and suggests that defects in MMR alone is sufficient to trigger tumorigenesis, supporting the experimental evidence that MMR-damage response function could protect from the early occurrence of tumors. Identifying these particular communication sites may have implications for the treatment of cancers that are not defective for MMR, but are unable to function optimally for MMR-dependent responses following DNA damage such as the case of resistance to cisplatin.

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