[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunofluorescence imaging has provided captivating visual evidence for numerous cellular events, from vesicular trafficking, organelle maturation and cell division to nuclear processes including the appearance of various proteins and chromatin components in distinct foci in response to DNA damaging agents. With the advent of new super-resolution microscope technologies such as 4Pi microscopy, standard immunofluorescence protocols deserve some reevaluation in order to take full advantage of these new technological accomplishments. Here we describe several methodological considerations that will help overcome some of the limitations that may result from the use of currently applied procedures, with particular attention paid to the analysis of possible colocalization of fluorescent signals. We conclude with an example of how application of optimized methods led to a breakthrough in super-resolution imaging of nuclear events occurring in response to DNA damage.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imaging volumes as thick as whole cells at three-dimensional (3D) super-resolution is required to reveal unknown features of cellular organization. We report a light microscope that generates images with translationally invariant 30 x 30 x 75 nm resolution over a depth of several micrometers. This method, named biplane (BP) FPALM, combines a double-plane detection scheme with fluorescence photoactivation localization microscopy (FPALM) enabling 3D sub-diffraction resolution without compromising speed or sensitivity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human Rad51 protein requires ATP for the catalysis of DNA strand exchange, as do all Rad51 and RecA-like recombinases. However, understanding the specific mechanistic requirements for ATP binding and hydrolysis has been complicated by the fact that ATP appears to have distinctly different effects on the functional properties of human Rad51 versus yeast Rad51 and bacterial RecA. Here we use RNAi methods to test the function of two ATP binding site mutants, K133R and K133A, in human cells. Unexpectedly, we find that the K133A mutant is functional for repair of DNA double-strand breaks when endogenous Rad51 is depleted. We also find that the K133A protein maintains wild-type-like DNA binding activity and interactions with Brca2 and Xrcc3, properties that undoubtedly promote its DNA repair capability in the cell-based assay used here. Although a Lys to Ala substitution in the Walker A motif is commonly assumed to prevent ATP binding, we show that the K133A protein binds ATP, but with an affinity approximately 100-fold lower than that of wild-type Rad51. Our data suggest that ATP binding and release without hydrolysis by the K133A protein act as a mechanistic surrogate in a catalytic process that applies to all RecA-like recombinases. ATP binding promotes assembly and stabilization of a catalytically active nucleoprotein filament, while ATP hydrolysis promotes filament disassembly and release from DNA.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) caused by cellular exposure to genotoxic agents or produced by inherent metabolic processes initiate a rapid and highly coordinated series of molecular events resulting in DNA damage signaling and repair. Phosphorylation of histone H2AX to form gamma-H2AX is one of the earliest of these events and is important for coordination of signaling and repair activities. An intriguing aspect of H2AX phosphorylation is that gamma-H2AX spreads a limited distance up to 1-2 Mbp from the site of a DNA break in mammalian cells. However, neither the distribution of H2AX throughout the genome nor the mechanism that defines the boundary of gamma-H2AX spreading have yet been described. Here, we report the identification of previously undescribed H2AX chromatin structures by successfully applying 4Pi microscopy to visualize endogenous nuclear proteins. Our observations suggest that H2AX is not distributed randomly throughout bulk chromatin, rather it exists in distinct clusters that themselves are uniformly distributed within the nuclear volume. These data support a model in which the size and distribution of H2AX clusters define the boundaries of gamma-H2AX spreading and also may provide a platform for the immediate and robust response observed after DNA damage.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2006; 103(48):18137-42. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0608709103 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rad51-catalyzed homologous recombination is an important pathway for repair of DNA double strand breaks and maintenance of genome integrity in vertebrate cells. Five proteins referred to as Rad51 paralogs promote Rad51 activity and are proposed to act at various, and in some cases, multiple stages in the recombination pathway. Imaging studies of native Rad51 have revealed its cellular response to DNA damage, yet visualization of the paralog proteins has met with limited success. In this study, we are able to detect endogenous Rad51C and Xrcc3 in human cells. In an effort to determine how Rad51, Rad51C, and Xrcc3 influence the pattern of localization of each other over the time course of DNA damage and repair, we have made the unexpected observation that Rad51 degradation via the ubiquitin-mediated proteasome pathway occurs as a natural part of recombinational DNA repair. Additionally, we find that Rad51C plays an important role in regulating this process. This article contains supplementary material, which may be viewed at the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry website at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/jpages/0730-2312/suppmat/index.html.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rad51-mediated homologous recombination (HR) is essential for maintenance of genome integrity. The Xrcc3 protein functions in HR DNA repair, and studies suggest it has multiple roles at different stages in this pathway. Defects in vertebrate XRCC3 result in elevated levels of spontaneous and DNA damage-induced chromosomal abnormalities, as well as increased sensitivity to DNA damaging agents. Formation of DNA damaged-induced nuclear Rad51 foci requires Xrcc3 and the other Rad51 paralog proteins (Rad51B, Rad51C, Rad51D, Xrcc2), thus supporting a model in which an early function of Xrcc3 involves promoting assembly of active Rad51 repair complexes. However, it is not known whether Xrcc3 or other Rad51 paralog proteins accumulate at DNA breaks, and if they do whether their stable association with breaks requires Rad51. Here we report for the first time that Xrcc3 forms distinct foci in human cells and that nuclear Xrcc3 begins to localize at sites of DNA damage within 10 min after radiation treatment. RNAi-mediated knock down of Rad51 has no effect on the DNA damage-induced localization of Xrcc3 to DNA breaks. Our data are consistent with a model in which Xrcc3 associates directly with DNA breaks independent of Rad51, and subsequently facilitates formation of the Rad51 nucleoprotein filament.