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Cryo-EM of NHEJ supercomplexes provides insights into DNA repair.

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Chaplin, Amanda K 
Hardwick, Steven W 
Stavridi, Antonia Kefala 
Buehl, Christopher J 
Goff, Noah J 


Non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) is one of two critical mechanisms utilized in humans to repair DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Unrepaired or incorrect repair of DSBs can lead to apoptosis or cancer. NHEJ involves several proteins, including the Ku70/80 heterodimer, DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), X-ray cross-complementing protein 4 (XRCC4), XRCC4-like factor (XLF), and ligase IV. These core proteins bind DSBs and ligate the damaged DNA ends. However, details of the structural assembly of these proteins remain unclear. Here, we present cryo-EM structures of NHEJ supercomplexes that are composed of these core proteins and DNA, revealing the detailed structural architecture of this assembly. We describe monomeric and dimeric forms of this supercomplex and also propose the existence of alternate dimeric forms of long-range synaptic complexes. Finally, we show that mutational disruption of several structural features within these NHEJ complexes negatively affects DNA repair.



DNA repair, DNA-PK, NHEJ, cryo-EM, long-range synaptic complexes, non-homologous end joining, Apoptosis, Cryoelectron Microscopy, DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded, DNA Damage, DNA End-Joining Repair, DNA Ligase ATP, DNA Repair, DNA Repair Enzymes, DNA-Activated Protein Kinase, DNA-Binding Proteins, Humans, Ku Autoantigen, Multiprotein Complexes, Phosphorylation

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Mol Cell

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Elsevier BV
Wellcome Trust (200814/Z/16/Z)
Wellcome Trust for a Programme Grant (O93167/Z/10/Z; 2011–2016) and Investigator Award (200814/Z/16/Z)