Indexed on: 04 Mar '08Published on: 04 Mar '08Published in: BMC Molecular Biology
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are induced by exogenous insults such as ionizing radiation and chemical exposure, and they can also arise as a consequence of stalled or collapsed DNA replication forks. Failure to repair DSBs can lead to genomic instability or cell death and cancer in higher eukaryotes. The Schizosaccharomyces pombe fbh1 gene encodes an F-box DNA helicase previously described to play a role in the Rhp51 (an orthologue of S. cerevisiae RAD51)-dependent recombinational repair of DSBs. Fbh1 fused to GFP localizes to discrete nuclear foci following DNA damage.To determine the functional roles of the highly conserved F-box and helicase domains, we have characterized fbh1 mutants carrying specific mutations in these domains. We show that the F-box mutation fbh1-fb disturbs the nuclear localization of Fbh1, conferring an fbh1 null-like phenotype. Moreover, nuclear foci do not form in fbh1-fb cells with DNA damage even if Fbh1-fb is targeted to the nucleus by fusion to a nuclear localization signal sequence. In contrast, the helicase mutation fbh1-hl causes the accumulation of Fbh1 foci irrespective of the presence of DNA damage and confers damage sensitivity greater than that conferred by the null allele. Additional mutation of the F-box alleviates the hypermorphic phenotype of the fbh1-hl mutant.These results suggest that the F-box and DNA helicase domains play indispensable but distinct roles in Fbh1 function. Assembly of the SCFFbh1 complex is required for both the nuclear localization and DNA damage-induced focus formation of Fbh1 and is therefore prerequisite for the Fbh1 recombination function.