The mammalian FBXL10-RNF68-RNF2 ubiquitin ligase complex (FRRUC) mono-ubiquitylates H2A at Lys119 to repress transcription in unstressed cells. We found that the FRRUC is rapidly and transiently recruited to sites of DNA damage in a PARP1- and TIMELESS-dependent manner to promote mono-ubiquitylation of H2A at Lys119, a local decrease of H2A levels, and an increase of H2A.Z incorporation. Both the FRRUC and H2A.Z promote transcriptional repression, double strand break signaling, and homologous recombination repair (HRR). All these events require both the presence and activity of the FRRUC. Moreover, the FRRUC and its activity are required for the proper recruitment of BMI1-RNF2 and MEL18-RNF2, two other ubiquitin ligases that mono-ubiquitylate Lys119 in H2A upon genotoxic stress. Notably, whereas H2A.Z is not required for H2A mono-ubiquitylation, impairment of the latter results in the inhibition of H2A.Z incorporation. We propose that the recruitment of the FRRUC represents an early and critical regulatory step in HRR.
Mutations in the human Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase type-1 (hSOD1) gene are common in familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). The pathophysiology has been linked to, e.g., organelle dysfunction, RNA metabolism and oxidative DNA damage conferred by SOD1 malfunction. However, apart from metabolically evoked DNA oxidation, it is unclear whether severe genotoxicity including DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs) and double-strand breaks (DSBs), originates from loss of function of nuclear SOD1 enzyme. Factors that endogenously interfere with DNA integrity and repair complexes in hSOD1-mediated fALS remain similarly unexplored. In this regard, uncontrolled activation of transposable elements (TEs) might contribute to DNA disintegration and neurodegeneration. The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of the fALS-causing hSOD1G93A mutation in the generation of severe DNA damage beyond well-characterized DNA base oxidation. Therefore, DNA damage was assessed in spinal tissue of hSOD1G93A-overexpressing mice and in corresponding motor neuron-enriched cell cultures in vitro. Overexpression of the hSOD1G93A locus did not change the threshold for severe DNA damage per se. We found that levels of SSBs and DSBs were unaltered between hSOD1G93A and control conditions, as demonstrated in post-mitotic motor neurons and in astrocytes susceptible to replication-dependent DNA breakage. Analogously, parameters indicative of DNA damage response processes were not activated in vivo or in vitro. Evidence for a mutation-related elevation in TE activation was not detected, in accordance with the absence of TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) proteinopathy in terms of cytoplasmic mislocation or nuclear loss, as nuclear TDP-43 is supposed to silence TEs physiologically. Conclusively, the superoxide dismutase function of SOD1 might not be required to preserve DNA integrity in motor neurons, at least when the function of TDP-43 is unaltered. Our data establish a foundation for further investigations addressing functional TDP-43 interaction with ALS-relevant genetic mutations.
Many lines of evidence have indicated that both genetic and non-genetic determinants can contribute to intra-tumor heterogeneity and influence cancer outcomes. Among the best described sub-population of cancer cells generated by non-genetic mechanisms are cells characterized by a CD44+/CD24- cell surface marker profile. Here, we report that human CD44+/CD24- cancer cells are genetically highly unstable because of intrinsic defects in their DNA-repair capabilities. In fact, in CD44+/CD24- cells, constitutive activation of the TGF-beta axis was both necessary and sufficient to reduce the expression of genes that are crucial in coordinating DNA damage repair mechanisms. Consequently, we observed that cancer cells that reside in a CD44+/CD24- state are characterized by increased accumulation of DNA copy number alterations, greater genetic diversity and improved adaptability to drug treatment. Together, these data suggest that the transition into a CD44+/CD24- cell state can promote intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity, spur tumor evolution and increase tumor fitness.