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Cell Cycle. 2013 Dec 15;12(24):3749-58. doi: 10.4161/cc.26640. Epub 2013 Oct 3.

A small ubiquitin binding domain inhibits ubiquitin-dependent protein recruitment to DNA repair foci.

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Department of Pharmacology; University of Michigan Medical School; Ann Arbor, MI USA.


The rapid ubiquitination of chromatin surrounding DNA double-stranded breaks (DSB) drives the formation of large structures called ionizing radiation-induced foci (IRIF), comprising many DNA damage response (DDR) proteins. This process is regulated by RNF8 and RNF168 ubiquitin ligases and is thought to be necessary for DNA repair and activation of signaling pathways involved in regulating cell cycle checkpoints. Here we demonstrate that it is possible to interfere with ubiquitin-dependent recruitment of DDR factors by expressing proteins containing ubiquitin binding domains (UBDs) that bind to lysine 63-linked polyubiquitin chains. Expression of the E3 ubiquitin ligase RAD18 prevented chromatin spreading of 53BP1 at DSBs, and this phenomenon was dependent upon the integrity of the RAD18 UBD. An isolated RAD18 UBD interfered with 53BP1 chromatin spreading, as well as other important DDR mediators, including RAP80 and the BRCA1 tumor suppressor protein, consistent with the model that the RAD18 UBD is blocking access of proteins to ubiquitinated chromatin. Using the RAD18 UBD as a tool to impede localization of 53BP1 and BRCA1 to repair foci, we found that DDR signaling, DNA DSB repair, and radiosensitivity were unaffected. We did find that activated ATM (S1981P) and phosphorylated SMC1 (a specific target of ATM) were not detectable in DNA repair foci, in addition to upregulated homologous recombination repair, revealing 2 DDR responses that are dependent upon chromatin spreading of certain DDR factors at DSBs. These data demonstrate that select UBDs containing targeting motifs may be useful probes in determining the biological significance of protein-ubiquitin interactions.


ATM; BRCA1; DNA damage response; RAD18; RAP80; homologous recombination; ubiquitin

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