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J Biol Chem. 2012 Feb 3;287(6):3908-18. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.287441. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Repair-specific functions of replication protein A.

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Department of Biochemistry, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Replication protein A (RPA), the major eukaryotic single-strand DNA (ssDNA)-binding protein, is essential for replication, repair, recombination, and checkpoint activation. Defects in RPA-associated cellular activities lead to genomic instability, a major factor in the pathogenesis of cancer and other diseases. ssDNA binding activity is primarily mediated by two domains in the 70-kDa subunit of the RPA complex. These ssDNA interactions are mediated by a combination of polar residues and four conserved aromatic residues. Mutation of the aromatic residues causes a modest decrease in binding to long (30-nucleotide) ssDNA fragments but results in checkpoint activation and cell cycle arrest in cells. We have used a combination of biochemical analysis and knockdown replacement studies in cells to determine the contribution of these aromatic residues to RPA function. Cells containing the aromatic residue mutants were able to progress normally through S-phase but were defective in DNA repair. Biochemical characterization revealed that mutation of the aromatic residues severely decreased binding to short ssDNA fragments less than 20 nucleotides long. These data indicate that altered binding of RPA to short ssDNA intermediates causes a defect in DNA repair but not in DNA replication. These studies show that cells require different RPA functions in DNA replication and DNA repair.

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