[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase (PNKP) is a critical mammalian DNA repair enzyme that generates 5'-phosphate and 3'-hydroxyl groups at damaged DNA termini that are required for subsequent processing by DNA ligases and polymerases. The PNKP phosphatase domain recognizes 3'-phosphate termini within DNA nicks, gaps, or at double- or single-strand breaks. Here we present a mechanistic rationale for the recognition of damaged DNA termini by the PNKP phosphatase domain. The crystal structures of PNKP bound to single-stranded DNA substrates reveals a narrow active site cleft that accommodates a single-stranded substrate in a sequence-independent manner. Biochemical studies suggest that the terminal base pairs of double-stranded substrates near the 3'-phosphate are destabilized by PNKP to allow substrate access to the active site. A positively charged surface distinct from the active site specifically facilitates interactions with double-stranded substrates, providing a complex DNA binding surface that enables the recognition of diverse substrates.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2011; 108(52):21022-7. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1112036108 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The BRCA1 BRCT domain binds pSer-x-x-Phe motifs in partner proteins to regulate the cellular response to DNA damage. Approximately 120 distinct missense variants have been identified in the BRCA1 BRCT through breast cancer screening, and several of these have been linked to an increased cancer risk. Here we probe the structures and peptide-binding activities of variants that affect the BRCA1 BRCT phosphopeptide-binding groove. The results obtained from the G1656D and T1700A variants illustrate the role of Ser1655 in pSer recognition. Mutations at Arg1699 (R1699W and R1699Q) significantly reduce peptide binding through loss of contacts to the main chain of the Phe(+3) residue and, in the case of R1699W, to a destabilization of the BRCT fold. The R1835P and E1836K variants do not dramatically reduce peptide binding, in spite of the fact that these mutations significantly alter the structure of the walls of the Phe(+3) pocket.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic screening of the breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 has uncovered a large number of variants of uncertain clinical significance. Here, we use biochemical and cell-based transcriptional assays to assess the structural and functional defects associated with a large set of 117 distinct BRCA1 missense variants within the essential BRCT domain of the BRCA1 protein that have been documented in individuals with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. In the first method, we used limited proteolysis to assess the protein folding stability of each of the mutants compared with the wild-type. In the second method, we used a phosphopeptide pull-down assay to assess the ability of each of the variants to specifically interact with a peptide containing a pSer-X-X-Phe motif, a known functional target of the BRCA1 BRCT domain. Finally, we used transcriptional assays to assess the ability of each BRCT variant to act as a transcriptional activation domain in human cells. Through a correlation of the assay results with available family history and clinical data, we define limits to predict the disease risk associated with each variant. Forty-two of the variants show little effect on function and are likely to represent variants with little or no clinical significance; 50 display a clear functional effect and are likely to represent pathogenic variants; and the remaining 25 variants display intermediate activities. The excellent agreement between the structure/function effects of these mutations and available clinical data supports the notion that functional and structure information can be useful in the development of models to assess cancer risk.
Cancer Research 06/2010; 70(12):4880-90. DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-4563 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The response of eukaryotic cells to DNA damage requires a multitude of protein-protein interactions that mediate the ordered repair of the damage and the arrest of the cell cycle until repair is complete. Two conserved protein modules, BRCT and forkhead-associated (FHA) domains, play key roles in the DNA-damage response as recognition elements for nuclear Ser/Thr phosphorylation induced by DNA-damage-responsive kinases. BRCT domains, first identified at the C-terminus of BRCA1, often occur as multiple tandem repeats of individual BRCT modules. Our recent structural and functional work has revealed how BRCT repeats recognize phosphoserine protein targets. It has also revealed a secondary binding pocket at the interface between tandem repeats, which recognizes the amino-acid 3 residues C-terminal to the phosphoserine. We have also studied the molecular function of the FHA domain of the DNA repair enzyme, polynucleotide kinase (PNK). This domain interacts with threonine-phosphorylated XRCC1 and XRCC4, proteins responsible for the recruitment of PNK to sites of DNA-strand-break repair. Our studies have revealed a flexible mode of recognition that allows PNK to interact with numerous negatively charged substrates.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian polynucleotide kinase (PNK) is a key component of both the base excision repair (BER) and nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) DNA repair pathways. PNK acts as a 5'-kinase/3'-phosphatase to create 5'-phosphate/3'-hydroxyl termini, which are a necessary prerequisite for ligation during repair. PNK is recruited to repair complexes through interactions between its N-terminal FHA domain and phosphorylated components of either pathway. Here, we describe the crystal structure of intact mammalian PNK and a structure of the PNK FHA bound to a cognate phosphopeptide. The kinase domain has a broad substrate binding pocket, which preferentially recognizes double-stranded substrates with recessed 5' termini. In contrast, the phosphatase domain efficiently dephosphorylates single-stranded 3'-phospho termini as well as double-stranded substrates. The FHA domain is linked to the kinase/phosphatase catalytic domain by a flexible tether, and it exhibits a mode of target selection based on electrostatic complementarity between the binding surface and the phosphothreonine peptide.