The mechanism of DNA double-strand break (DSB) resection in human cells
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Homologous recombination (HR) repair is critical for the maintenance of genomic stability, as it is involved in the precise repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) using an intact homologous template for repair. The initiation of 5' strand resection of DNA ends is a critical determinant in this process, which commits cells to HR repair and prevents repair by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). The human single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding complexes, RPA and SOSS1, are involved in regulating DSB signaling and HR repair. In this study, I demonstrate a novel function of SOSS1 in HR repair, in which SOSS1 stimulates hExo1-dependent resection. Despite its poor activity in binding duplex DNA, SOSS1 facilitates hExo1 recruitment to duplex DNA ends and promotes its activity in resection independently of MRN in vitro. MRN(X) is a highly conserved complex that is involved in the early steps of HR repair by regulating DSB resection. MRN interacts with CtIP and constitutes resection machinery that can perform limiting processing on DNA ends. In this study, I also examine the biochemical activities of MRN and CtIP in DSB resection through reconstituted in vitro assays. I show that the ATP-dependent DNA unwinding activity of MRN is responsible for overcoming Ku inhibition of hExo1- and Dna2/BLM-dependent resection activity in vitro. I propose that this unwinding step displaces Ku away from the DNA ends and facilitates the recruitment of hExo1 to the DNA ends for efficient resection. In addition, I show that CtIP can promote overcoming the inhibitory effect of Ku in resection together with MRN. Further, I demonstrate that MRN nuclease activity is required for efficient processing of covalent adducts from DNA ends in vitro, suggesting that the nucleolytic removal of covalent adducts by MRN generates free ends for hExo1- and Dna2/BLM binding. Overall, this study provides mechanistic insight into the regulation of DSB resection in human cells.