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DNA Repair (Amst). 2010 Feb 4;9(2):120-33. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2009.11.003. Epub 2009 Dec 8.

Nuclear reorganization of DNA mismatch repair proteins in response to DNA damage.

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Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for Molecular Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, ML3101, Farmington, CT 06030-3101, USA.


The DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system is highly conserved and vital for preserving genomic integrity. Current mechanistic models for MMR are mainly derived from in vitro assays including reconstitution of strand-specific MMR and DNA binding assays using short oligonucleotides. However, fundamental questions regarding the mechanism and regulation in the context of cellular DNA replication remain. Using synchronized populations of HeLa cells we demonstrated that hMSH2, hMLH1 and PCNA localize to the chromatin during S-phase, and accumulate to a greater extent in cells treated with a DNA alkylating agent. In addition, using small interfering RNA to deplete hMSH2, we demonstrated that hMLH1 localization to the chromatin is hMSH2-dependent. hMSH2/hMLH1/PCNA proteins, when associated with the chromatin, form a complex that is greatly enhanced by DNA damage. The DNA damage caused by high doses of alkylating agents leads to a G(2) arrest after only one round of replication. In these G(2)-arrested cells, an hMSH2/hMLH1 complex persists on chromatin, however, PCNA is no longer in the complex. Cells treated with a lower dose of alkylating agent require two rounds of replication before cells arrest in G(2). In the first S-phase, the MMR proteins form a complex with PCNA, however, during the second S-phase PCNA is missing from that complex. The distinction between these complexes may suggest separate functions for the MMR proteins in damage repair and signaling. Additionally, using confocal immunofluorescence, we observed a population of hMSH6 that localized to the nucleolus. This population is significantly reduced after DNA damage suggesting that the protein is shuttled out of the nucleolus in response to damage. In contrast, hMLH1 is excluded from the nucleolus at all times. Thus, the nucleolus may act to segregate a population of hMSH2-hMSH6 from hMLH1-hPMS2 such that, in the absence of DNA damage, an inappropriate response is not invoked.

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