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Genes Dev. 2009 Oct 15;23(20):2405-14. doi: 10.1101/gad.1839909. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

The annealing helicase SMARCAL1 maintains genome integrity at stalled replication forks.

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Department of Biochemistry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.


Mutations in SMARCAL1 (HARP) cause Schimke immunoosseous dysplasia (SIOD). The mechanistic basis for this disease is unknown. Using functional genomic screens, we identified SMARCAL1 as a genome maintenance protein. Silencing and overexpression of SMARCAL1 leads to activation of the DNA damage response during S phase in the absence of any genotoxic agent. SMARCAL1 contains a Replication protein A (RPA)-binding motif similar to that found in the replication stress response protein TIPIN (Timeless-Interacting Protein), which is both necessary and sufficient to target SMARCAL1 to stalled replication forks. RPA binding is critical for the cellular function of SMARCAL1; however, it is not necessary for the annealing helicase activity of SMARCAL1 in vitro. An SIOD-associated SMARCAL1 mutant fails to prevent replication-associated DNA damage from accumulating in cells in which endogenous SMARCAL1 is silenced. Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM), ATM and Rad3-related (ATR), and DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) phosphorylate SMARCAL1 in response to replication stress. Loss of SMARCAL1 activity causes increased RPA loading onto chromatin and persistent RPA phosphorylation after a transient exposure to replication stress. Furthermore, SMARCAL1-deficient cells are hypersensitive to replication stress agents. Thus, SMARCAL1 is a replication stress response protein, and the pleiotropic phenotypes of SIOD are at least partly due to defects in genome maintenance during DNA replication.

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