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EMBO J. 2004 Oct 1;23(19):3874-85. Epub 2004 Sep 23.

Xrcc4 physically links DNA end processing by polynucleotide kinase to DNA ligation by DNA ligase IV.

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Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.


Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) is the major DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway in mammalian cells. A critical step in this process is DNA ligation, involving the Xrcc4-DNA ligase IV complex. DNA end processing is often a prerequisite for ligation, but the coordination of these events is poorly understood. We show that polynucleotide kinase (PNK), with its ability to process ionizing radiation-induced 5'-OH and 3'-phosphate DNA termini, functions in NHEJ via an FHA-dependent interaction with CK2-phosphorylated Xrcc4. Analysis of the PNK FHA-Xrcc4 interaction revealed that the PNK FHA domain binds phosphopeptides with a unique selectivity among FHA domains. Disruption of the Xrcc4-PNK interaction in vivo is associated with increased radiosensitivity and slower repair kinetics of DSBs, in conjunction with a diminished efficiency of DNA end joining in vitro. Therefore, these results suggest a new role for Xrcc4 in the coordination of DNA end processing with DNA ligation.

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