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Mol Cells. 2002 Apr 30;13(2):159-66.

DNA-dependent protein kinase complex: a multifunctional protein in DNA repair and damage checkpoint.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Walther Oncology Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) is a nuclear serine/threonine protein kinase that is activated upon DNA damage generated by ionizing radiation or UV-irradiation. It is a three-protein complex consisting of a 470-kDa catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and the regulatory DNA binding subunits, Ku heterodimer (Ku70 and Ku80). Mouse and human cells deficient in DNA-PKcs are hypersensitive to ionizing radiation and defective in V(D)J recombination, suggesting a role for the kinase in double-strand break repair and recombination. The Ku heterodimer binds to double-strand DNA breaks produced by either DNA damage or recombination, protects DNA ends from degradation, orients DNA ends for re-ligation, and recruits its catalytic subunit and additional factors necessary for successful end-joining. DNA-PK is also involved in an early stage of damage-induced cell cycle arrest, however, it remains unclear how the enzyme senses DNA damage and transmits signals to downstream gene(s) and proteins.

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