Structural and functional insights into DNA-end processing by the archaeal HerA helicase-NurA nuclease complex.
Blackwood JK, Rzechorzek NJ, Abrams AS, Maman JD, Pellegrini L, Robinson NP. Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 40 3183-96
Helicase-nuclease systems dedicated to DNA end resection in preparation for homologous recombination (HR) are present in all kingdoms of life. In thermophilic archaea, the HerA helicase and NurA nuclease cooperate with the highly conserved Mre11 and Rad50 proteins during HR-dependent DNA repair. Here we show that HerA and NurA must interact in a complex with specific subunit stoichiometry to process DNA ends efficiently. We determine crystallographically that NurA folds in a toroidal dimer of intertwined RNaseH-like domains. The central channel of the NurA dimer is too narrow for double-stranded DNA but appears well suited to accommodate one or two strands of an unwound duplex. We map a critical interface of the complex to an exposed hydrophobic epitope of NurA abutting the active site. Based upon the presented evidence, we propose alternative mechanisms of DNA end processing by the HerA-NurA complex.
Flexible tethering of primase and DNA Pol α in the eukaryotic primosome.
Núñez-Ramírez R, Klinge S, Sauguet L, Melero R, Recuero-Checa MA, Kilkenny M, Perera RL, García-Alvarez B, Hall RJ, Nogales E, Pellegrini L, Llorca O. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011, 39, 8187-99. [PubMed] [PDF]
The Pol α/primase complex or primosome is the primase/polymerase complex that initiates nucleic acid synthesis during eukaryotic replication. Within the primosome, the primase synthesizes short RNA primers that undergo limited extension by Pol α. The resulting RNA-DNA primers are utilized by Pol δ and Pol ε for processive elongation on the lagging and leading strands, respectively. Despite its importance, the mechanism of RNA-DNA primer synthesis remains poorly understood. Here, we describe a structural model of the yeast primosome based on electron microscopy and functional studies. The 3D architecture of the primosome reveals an asymmetric, dumbbell-shaped particle. The catalytic centers of primase and Pol α reside in separate lobes of high relative mobility. The flexible tethering of the primosome lobes increases the efficiency of primer transfer between primase and Pol α. The physical organization of the primosome suggests that a concerted mechanism of primer hand-off between primase and Pol α would involve coordinated movements of the primosome lobes. The first three-dimensional map of the eukaryotic primosome at 25 Å resolution provides an essential structural template for understanding initiation of eukaryotic replication.
Shared active site architecture between the large subunit of eukaryotic primase and DNA photolyase.
Sauguet L, Klinge S, Perera RL, Maman JD, Pellegrini L. PLoS One 2010, 5:e10083. [PubMed] [PDF][Coordinates]
DNA synthesis during replication relies on RNA primers synthesised by the primase, a specialised DNA-dependent RNA polymerase that can initiate nucleic acid synthesis de novo. In archaeal and eukaryotic organisms, the primase is a heterodimeric enzyme resulting from the constitutive association of a small (PriS) and large (PriL) subunit. The ability of the primase to initiate synthesis of an RNA primer depends on a conserved Fe-S domain at the C-terminus of PriL (PriL-CTD). However, the critical role of the PriL-CTD in the catalytic mechanism of initiation is not understood. Here we report the crystal structure of the yeast PriL-CTD at 1.55 A resolution. The structure reveals that the PriL-CTD folds in two largely independent alpha-helical domains joined at their interface by a [4Fe-4S] cluster. The larger N-terminal domain represents the most conserved portion of the PriL-CTD, whereas the smaller C-terminal domain is largely absent in archaeal PriL. Unexpectedly, the N-terminal domain reveals a striking structural similarity with the active site region of the DNA photolyase/cryptochrome family of flavoproteins. The region of similarity includes PriL-CTD residues that are known to be essential for initiation of RNA primer synthesis by the primase. Our study reports the first crystallographic model of the conserved Fe-S domain of the archaeal/eukaryotic primase. The structural comparison with a cryptochrome protein bound to flavin adenine dinucleotide and single-stranded DNA provides important insight into the mechanism of RNA primer synthesis by the primase.
3D architecture of DNA Pol alpha reveals the functional core of multi-subunit replicative polymerases.
Klinge S, Núñez-Ramírez R, Llorca O, Pellegrini L. EMBO J. 2009 28 1978-87 [PubMed][PDF][Coordinates]
Eukaryotic DNA replication requires the coordinated activity of the multi-subunit DNA polymerases: Pol alpha, Pol delta and Pol epsilon. The conserved catalytic and regulatory B subunits associate in a constitutive heterodimer that represents the functional core of all three replicative polymerases. Here, we combine X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy (EM) to describe subunit interaction and 3D architecture of heterodimeric yeast Pol alpha. The crystal structure of the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the catalytic subunit bound to the B subunit illustrates a conserved mechanism of accessory factor recruitment by replicative polymerases. The EM reconstructions of Pol alpha reveal a bilobal shape with separate catalytic and regulatory modules. Docking of the B-CTD complex in the EM reconstruction shows that the B subunit is tethered to the polymerase domain through a structured but flexible linker. Our combined findings provide a structural template for the common functional architecture of the three major replicative DNA polymerases.
The RecA/RAD51 nucleoprotein filament is central to the reaction of homologous recombination (HR). Filament activity must be tightly regulated in vivo as unrestrained HR can cause genomic instability. Our mechanistic understanding of HR is restricted by lack of structural information about the regulatory proteins that control filament activity. Here, we describe a structural and functional analysis of the HR inhibitor protein RecX and its mode of interaction with the RecA filament. RecX is a modular protein assembled of repeated three-helix motifs. The relative arrangement of the repeats generates an elongated and curved shape that is well suited for binding within the helical groove of the RecA filament. Structure-based mutagenesis confirms that conserved basic residues on the concave side of RecX are important for repression of RecA activity. Analysis of RecA filament dynamics in the presence of RecX shows that RecX actively promotes filament disassembly. Collectively, our data support a model in which RecX binding to the helical groove of the filament causes local dissociation of RecA protomers, leading to filament destabilisation and HR inhibition.
Primases synthesize the RNA primers that are necessary for replication of the parental DNA strands. Here we report that the heterodimeric archaeal/eukaryotic primase is an iron-sulfur (Fe-S) protein. Binding of the Fe-S cluster is mediated by an evolutionarily conserved domain at the C terminus of the large subunit. We further show that the Fe-S domain is essential to the unique ability of the eukaryotic primase to start DNA replication.
BRCA2 has an essential function in DNA repair by homologous recombination, interacting with RAD51 via short motifs in the middle and at the C terminus of BRCA2. Here, we report that a conserved 36-residue sequence of human BRCA2 encoded by exon 27 (BRCA2Exon27) interacts with RAD51 through the specific recognition of oligomerized RAD51 ATPase domains. BRCA2Exon27 binding stabilizes the RAD51 nucleoprotein filament against disassembly by BRC repeat 4. The protection is specific for RAD51 filaments formed on single-stranded DNA and is lost when BRCA2Exon27 is phosphorylated on Ser3291. We propose that productive recombination results from the functional balance between the different RAD51-binding modes [corrected] of the BRC repeat and exon 27 regions of BRCA2. Our results further suggest a mechanism in which CDK phosphorylation of BRCA2Exon27 at the G2-M transition alters the balance in favor of RAD51 filament disassembly, thus terminating recombination.
Comment in [NSMB]
The breast cancer susceptibility protein BRCA2 controls the activity of the RAD51 recombinase in pathways that lead to DNA repair by homologous recombination. The structure of the RAD51 RecA-homology domain bound to BRC repeat 4 of BRCA2 shows that the BRC repeat mimicks a short RAD51 motif used by the recombinase to self-associate into a nucleoprotein filament, an essential intermediate of genetic recombination. BRCA2 thus controls RAD51 activity by acting as a binding antagonist to RAD51 filament formation.
The Xrcc4 and DNA Ligase IV proteins are essential for non-homologous joining of DNA ends, an important mechanism of DNA double strand break repair. They are usually found associated in a tight complex in the cells. We have solved the structure of the proteolytically resistant core of Xrcc4 bound to its recognition site on DNA Ligase IV. The amino acid conservation in the two proteins is strongest at the complex interface, providing evidence that the observed mode of interaction has been maintained by the non-homologous end joining apparatus throughout evolution.