Indexed on: 20 Jun '06Published on: 20 Jun '06Published in: BMC Molecular Biology
Several distinct pathways for the repair of damaged DNA exist in all cells. DNA modifications are repaired by base excision or nucleotide excision repair, while DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) can be repaired through direct joining of broken ends (non homologous end joining, NHEJ) or through recombination with the non broken sister chromosome (homologous recombination, HR). Rad50 protein plays an important role in repair of DNA damage in eukaryotic cells, and forms a complex with the Mre11 nuclease. The prokaryotic ortholog of Rad50, SbcC, also forms a complex with a nuclease, SbcD, in Escherichia coli, and has been implicated in the removal of hairpin structures that can arise during DNA replication. Ku protein is a component of the NHEJ pathway in pro- and eukaryotic cells.A deletion of the sbcC gene rendered Bacillus subtilis cells sensitive to DNA damage caused by Mitomycin C (MMC) or by gamma irradiation. The deletion of the sbcC gene in a recN mutant background increased the sensitivity of the single recN mutant strain. SbcC was also non-epistatic with AddAB (analog of Escherichia coli RecBCD), but epistatic with RecA. A deletion of the ykoV gene encoding the B. subtilis Ku protein in a sbcC mutant strain did not resulted in an increase in sensitivity towards MMC and gamma irradiation, but exacerbated the phenotype of a recN or a recA mutant strain. In exponentially growing cells, SbcC-GFP was present throughout the cells, or as a central focus in rare cases. Upon induction of DNA damage, SbcC formed 1, rarely 2, foci on the nucleoids. Different to RecN protein, which forms repair centers at any location on the nucleoids, SbcC foci mostly co-localized with the DNA polymerase complex. In contrast to this, AddA-GFP or AddB-GFP did not form detectable foci upon addition of MMC.Our experiments show that SbcC plays an important role in the repair of DNA inter-strand cross-links (induced by MMC), most likely through HR, and suggest that NHEJ via Ku serves as a backup DNA repair system. The cell biological experiments show that SbcC functions in close proximity to the replication machinery, suggesting that SbcC may act on stalled or collapsed replication forks. Our results show that different patterns of localization exist for DNA repair proteins, and that the B. subtilis SMC proteins RecN and SbcC play distinct roles in the repair of DNA damage.