Send to

Choose Destination
DNA Repair (Amst). 2010 Dec 10;9(12):1299-306. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2010.10.001. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 conformations and the control of sensing, signaling, and effector responses at DNA double-strand breaks.

Author information

Life Sciences Division, Department of Molecular Biology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Repair and integrity of DNA ends at breaks, replication forks and telomeres are essential for life; yet, paradoxically, these responses are, in many cases, controlled by a single protein complex, Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN). The MRN complex consists of dimers of each subunit and this heterohexamer controls key sensing, signaling, regulation, and effector responses to DNA double-strand breaks including ATM activation, homologous recombinational repair, microhomology-mediated end joining and, in some organisms, non-homologous end joining. We propose that this is possible because each MRN subunit can exist in three or more distinct states; thus, the trimer of MRN dimers can exist in a stunning 6(3) or 216 states, a number that can be expanded further when post-translational modifications are taken into account. MRN can therefore be considered as a molecular computer that effectively assesses optimal responses and pathway choice based upon its states as set by cell status and the nature of the DNA damage. This extreme multi-state concept demands a paradigm shift from striving to understand DNA damage responses in separate terms of signaling, checkpoint, and effector proteins: we must now endeavor to characterize conformational and assembly states of MRN and other DNA repair machines that couple, coordinate, and control biological outcomes. Addressing the emerging challenge of gaining a detailed molecular understanding of MRN and other multi-state dynamic DNA repair machines promises to provide opportunities to develop master keys for controlling cell biology with probable impacts on therapeutic interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center