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DNA double-strand break formation and signalling in response to transcription-blocking topoisomerase I complexes

Abstract : Topoisomerase I (Top1) removes DNA supercoiling generated during transcription by producing Top1-DNA cleavage complexes (Top1cc). These transient Top1cc can be stabilized by camptothecins, from which anticancer drugs are derived, and by common DNA alterations. Although stabilized Top1cc are potent transcription-blocking lesions, our understanding regarding the molecular processes resulting from the stalling of transcription complexes by Top1cc is currently limited. Previous work showed that stabilized Top1cc produce transcription-dependent DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that activate ATM signalling. In this project, we used camptothecin-treated quiescent cells to induce transcription-blocking Top1cc and study the mechanisms of DSB production and signalling. We show that DSBs form preferentially at subtelomeric regions during the repair of transcription-blocking Top1cc from DNA single-strand breaks generated after Top1 proteolysis and before Tdp1 action. Analysis of DSB signalling reveals a novel function of DNA-PK in promoting protein ubiquitination leading (i) to full ATM activity at DSB sites by promoting H2AX and H2A ubiquitination, and (ii) to enhancement of Top1cc repair by promoting Top1 proteolysis. Finally, we show that co-transcriptional DSBs kill quiescent cells. Together, these findings provide new insights into the cellular responses to camptothecins and further suggest that DSBs arising from transcription-blocking Top1cc may contribute to the pathogenesis of the neurodegenerative SCAN1 syndrome, which is caused by Tdp1 deficiency.
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Agnese Cristini. DNA double-strand break formation and signalling in response to transcription-blocking topoisomerase I complexes. Cancer. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015TOU30276⟩. ⟨tel-01878572⟩

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