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J Biol Chem. 2006 Sep 22;281(38):27784-93. Epub 2006 Jul 19.

Interplay between Ku, Artemis, and the DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit at DNA ends.

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  • 1Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, CNRS UMR 5089, 205 Route de Narbonne, 31077 Toulouse, Cedex 4, France.


Repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSB) by the nonhomologous end-joining pathway in mammals requires at least seven proteins involved in a simplified two-step process: (i) recognition and synapsis of the DNA ends dependent on the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) formed by the Ku70/Ku80 heterodimer and the catalytic subunit DNA-PKcs in association with Artemis; (ii) ligation dependent on the DNA ligase IV.XRCC4.Cernunnos-XLF complex. The Artemis protein exhibits exonuclease and endonuclease activities that are believed to be involved in the processing of a subclass of DSB. Here, we have analyzed the interactions of Artemis and nonhomologous end-joining pathway proteins both in a context of human nuclear cell extracts and in cells. DSB-inducing agents specifically elicit the mobilization of Artemis to damaged chromatin together with DNA-PK and XRCC4/ligase IV proteins. DNA-PKcs is necessary for the loading of Artemis on damaged DNA and is the main kinase that phosphorylates Artemis in cells damaged with highly efficient DSB producers. Under kinase-preventive conditions, both in vitro and in cells, Ku-mediated assembly of DNA-PK on DNA ends is responsible for a dissociation of the DNA-PKcs. Artemis complex. Conversely, DNA-PKcs kinase activity prevents Artemis dissociation from the DNA-PK.DNA complex. Altogether, our data allow us to propose a model in which a DNA-PKcs-mediated phosphorylation is necessary both to activate Artemis endonuclease activity and to maintain its association with the DNA end site. This tight functional coupling between the activation of both DNA-PKcs and Artemis may avoid improper processing of DNA.

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