Functional Analysis of the Human SMC5/6 Complex in Homologous Recombination and Telomere Maintenance




Potts, Patrick Ryan

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DNA repair is required for the genomic stability and well-being of an organism. The structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) family of proteins has been implicated in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination (HR). The SMC1/3 cohesin complex promotes HR by localizing to DSBs where it holds sister chromatids in close proximity to allow HR-induced strand invasion and exchange. The SMC5/6 complex is also required for DNA repair, but the mechanism by which it accomplishes this has been unclear. We have characterized the role of the human SMC5/6 complex in HRmediated DNA damage repair. The yeast SMC5/6 complex has been shown to be composed of the SMC5-SMC6 heterodimer and six non-SMC element (NSE) proteins. We show that the human homolog of one of these NSE proteins, MMS21/NSE2, is a ligase for small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO). Depletion of MMS21 by RNA interference (RNAi) sensitizes cells toward DNA damageinduced apoptosis. This hypersensitization of MMS21-RNAi cells is not due to a defect in DNA damage-induced cell cycle checkpoint, but rather in the kinetics of DNA damage repair. Since the yeast SMC5/6 complex has been implicated in HR-mediated DSB repair, we investigated the role of the human SMC5/6 complex in HR-mediated DSB repair. RNAi-mediated knockdown of the SMC5/6 complex components specifically decreases sister chromatid HR, but not non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) or intra-chromatid, homologue, or extrachromosomal HR. We show that one potential mechanism by which the SMC5/6 complex specifically promotes sister chromatid HR is by facilitating the recruitment of the SMC1/3 cohesin complex to DSBs. We next examined whether the SMC5/6 complex is also required for sister chromatid HR of telomeres. Specific types of cancer cells, known as alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) cells, rely on telomere recombination for telomere lengthening and unlimited replicative potential. We show that the SMC5/6 complex promotes telomere recombination and lengthening in ALT cells by MMS21-dependent sumoylation of telomere-binding proteins. Sumoylation of these telomere-binding proteins relocalizes telomeres to nuclear PML bodies where HR proteins facilitate telomere recombination. These studies identify the human SMC5/6 complex and SUMO modification as critical mediators of sister chromatid HR.

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