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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Oct;41(19):8979-94. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt670. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

XPD-dependent activation of apoptosis in response to triplex-induced DNA damage.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


DNA sequences capable of forming triplexes are prevalent in the human genome and have been found to be intrinsically mutagenic. Consequently, a balance between DNA repair and apoptosis is critical to counteract their effect on genomic integrity. Using triplex-forming oligonucleotides to synthetically create altered helical distortions, we have determined that pro-apoptotic pathways are activated by the formation of triplex structures. Moreover, the TFIIH factor, XPD, occupies a central role in triggering apoptosis in response to triplex-induced DNA strand breaks. Here, we show that triplexes are capable of inducing XPD-independent double strand breaks, which result in the formation of γH2AX foci. XPD was subsequently recruited to the triplex-induced double strand breaks and co-localized with γH2AX at the damage site. Furthermore, phosphorylation of H2AX tyrosine 142 was found to stimulate the signaling pathway of XPD-dependent apoptosis. We suggest that this mechanism may play an active role in minimizing genomic instability induced by naturally occurring noncanonical structures, perhaps protecting against cancer initiation.

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