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Nat Cell Biol. 2006 Aug;8(8):870-6. Epub 2006 Jul 23.

Chromatin relaxation in response to DNA double-strand breaks is modulated by a novel ATM- and KAP-1 dependent pathway.

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  • 1The David and Inez Myers Laboratory for Genetic Research, Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


The cellular DNA-damage response is a signaling network that is vigorously activated by cytotoxic DNA lesions, such as double-strand breaks (DSBs). The DSB response is mobilized by the nuclear protein kinase ATM, which modulates this process by phosphorylating key players in these pathways. A long-standing question in this field is whether DSB formation affects chromatin condensation. Here, we show that DSB formation is followed by ATM-dependent chromatin relaxation. ATM's effector in this pathway is the protein KRAB-associated protein (KAP-1, also known as TIF1beta, KRIP-1 or TRIM28), previously known as a corepressor of gene transcription. In response to DSB induction, KAP-1 is phosphorylated in an ATM-dependent manner on Ser 824. KAP-1 is phosphorylated exclusively at the damage sites, from which phosphorylated KAP-1 spreads rapidly throughout the chromatin. Ablation of the phosphorylation site of KAP-1 leads to loss of DSB-induced chromatin decondensation and renders the cells hypersensitive to DSB-inducing agents. Knocking down KAP-1, or mimicking a constitutive phosphorylation of this protein, leads to constitutive chromatin relaxation. These results suggest that chromatin relaxation is a fundamental pathway in the DNA-damage response and identify its primary mediators.

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