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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 16;8(4):e60909. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060909. Print 2013.

A DNA damage response system associated with the phosphoCTD of elongating RNA polymerase II.

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Department of Biochemistry, Duke Center for RNA Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, United States of America.


RNA polymerase II translocates across much of the genome and since it can be blocked by many kinds of DNA lesions, detects DNA damage proficiently; it thereby contributes to DNA repair and to normal levels of DNA damage resistance. However, the components and mechanisms that respond to polymerase blockage are largely unknown, except in the case of UV-induced damage that is corrected by nucleotide excision repair. Because elongating RNAPII carries with it numerous proteins that bind to its hyperphosphorylated CTD, we tested for effects of interfering with this binding. We find that expressing a decoy CTD-carrying protein in the nucleus, but not in the cytoplasm, leads to reduced DNA damage resistance. Likewise, inducing aberrant phosphorylation of the CTD, by deleting CTK1, reduces damage resistance and also alters rates of homologous recombination-mediated repair. In line with these results, extant data sets reveal a remarkable, highly significant overlap between phosphoCTD-associating protein genes and DNA damage-resistance genes. For one well-known phosphoCTD-associating protein, the histone methyltransferase Set2, we demonstrate a role in DNA damage resistance, and we show that this role requires the phosphoCTD binding ability of Set2; surprisingly, Set2's role in damage resistance does not depend on its catalytic activity. To explain all of these observations, we posit the existence of a CTD-Associated DNA damage Response (CAR) system, organized around the phosphoCTD of elongating RNAPII and comprising a subset of phosphoCTD-associating proteins.

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