Structural biology of DNA repair: spatial organisation of the multicomponent complexes of nonhomologous end joining.

03 Oct 2017

Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) plays a major role in double-strand break DNA repair, which involves a series of steps mediated by multiprotein complexes. A ring-shaped Ku70/Ku80 heterodimer forms first at broken DNA ends, DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) binds to mediate synapsis and nucleases process DNA overhangs. DNA ligase IV (LigIV) is recruited as a complex with XRCC4 for ligation, with XLF/Cernunnos, playing a role in enhancing activity of LigIV. We describe how a combination of methods-X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy and small angle X-ray scattering-can give insights into the transient multicomponent complexes that mediate NHEJ. We first consider the organisation of DNA-PKcs/Ku70/Ku80/DNA complex (DNA-PK) and then discuss emerging evidence concerning LigIV/XRCC4/XLF/DNA and higher-order complexes. We conclude by discussing roles of multiprotein systems in maintaining high signal-to-noise and the value of structural studies in developing new therapies in oncology and elsewhere.