DNA and Chromosomes
- Eukaryotic DNA polymerase (Pol) X family members such as Pol μ and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT) are important components for the nonhomologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ) pathway. TdT participates in a specialized version of NHEJ, V(D)J recombination. It has primarily nontemplated polymerase activity but can take instructions across strands from the downstream dsDNA, and both activities are highly dependent on a structural element called Loop1. However, it is unclear whether Pol μ follows the same mechanism, because the structure of its Loop1 is disordered in available structures.
- Nonhomologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ) is the predominant double-strand break (DSB) repair pathway throughout the cell cycle and accounts for nearly all DSB repair outside of the S and G2 phases. NHEJ relies on Ku to thread onto DNA termini and thereby improve the affinity of the NHEJ enzymatic components consisting of polymerases (Pol μ and Pol λ), a nuclease (the Artemis·DNA-PKcs complex), and a ligase (XLF·XRCC4·Lig4 complex). Each of the enzymatic components is distinctive for its versatility in acting on diverse incompatible DNA end configurations coupled with a flexibility in loading order, resulting in many possible junctional outcomes from one DSB.
- In humans, nonhomologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ) is the major pathway by which DNA double-strand breaks are repaired. Recognition of each broken DNA end by the DNA repair protein Ku is the first step in NHEJ, followed by the iterative binding of nucleases, DNA polymerases, and the XRCC4-DNA ligase IV (X4-LIV) complex in an order influenced by the configuration of the two DNA ends at the break site. The endonuclease Artemis improves joining efficiency by functioning in a complex with DNA-dependent protein kinase, catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) that carries out endonucleolytic cleavage of 5′ and 3′ overhangs.
- The nonhomologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ) pathway is a key mechanism for repairing dsDNA breaks that occur often in eukaryotic cells. In the simplest model, these breaks are first recognized by Ku, which then interacts with other NHEJ proteins to improve their affinity at DNA ends. These include DNA-PKcs and Artemis for trimming the DNA ends; DNA polymerase μ and λ to add nucleotides; and the DNA ligase IV complex to ligate the ends with the additional factors, XRCC4 (X-ray repair cross-complementing protein 4), XLF (XRCC4-like factor/Cernunos), and PAXX (paralog of XRCC4 and XLF).
- Background: Artemis is a nuclease that is necessary for hairpin opening in V(D)J recombination.Results: Artemis action on blunt DNA ends is dependent on DNA sequence (breathing) and Ku.Conclusion: Breathing of blunt DNA ends into a transient ss/dsDNA boundary is needed for Artemis action.Significance: Unification of Artemis nuclease action explains the features of NHEJ and V(D)J recombination.