Interstrand Crosslinks - Induction and repair

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology, Stockholm University

Abstract: DNA crosslinking agents exhibit a variety of DNA lesions, such as monoadducts, DNA-DNA interstrand or intrastrand crosslinks or DNA-protein crosslinks. Agents that produce interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) exist naturally and are widely used in chemotherapy. Therefore, it is important to understand how the lesions induced by these agents are repaired. In bacteria, the repair is mainly dependent on nucleotide excision repair (NER) together with homologous recombination (HR) or translesion synthesis (TLS). In human cells, it is not clear how these lesions are repaired, and it is believed to be a more complicated process in which NER does not play as important a role as in prokaryotes. Here, we investigated the repair mechanisms mainly after treatment with psoralen but also with acetaldehyde, cisplatin and mitomycin C in some studies. As expected from studies on plasmids and in bacteria, we used new techniques to confirm that various ICL-inducing agents block replication fork elongation in mammalian cells. We also found that the replication fork was unable to bypass these lesions. We confirmed that ERCC1/XPF and the HR proteins BRCA2 and XRCC2/3 are vital for protection against ICL treatments. These proteins were also found to be equally important for the repair of monoadducts. To better understand ICL repair in mammalian cells, we developed a method to study the induction and unhooking of ICL in human fibroblasts. We found that ICLs were repaired and that 50% of the induced ICLs were unhooked within 3 hours following exposure. Additionally, we determined that XPA, but not XPE, is involved in ICL unhooking, although not affecting lethality. A step in ICL repair is the formation of double-strand breaks (DSBs), and we identified a replication-dependent formation of DSBs following ICL treatment. Furthermore, ERCC1/XPF was not necessary for DSB formation. The repair of these DSBs was performed by HR and involved ERCC1/XPF. Additionally, we were able to quantify the ICL unhooking in human fibroblasts and found that they can unhook ~2500 ICL/h. We also determined that a dose of approximately 400 ICL/cell is lethal to 50% of the cells, indicating that ICL unhooking is not the most critical step during the repair process.