Mdb1, a fission yeast homolog of human MDC1, modulates DNA damage response and mitotic spindle function Academic Article uri icon

publication date

  • 2014


  • During eukaryotic DNA damage response (DDR), one of the earliest events is the phosphorylation of the C-terminal SQ motif of histone H2AX (H2A in yeasts). In human cells, phosphorylated H2AX (γH2AX) is recognized by MDC1, which serves as a binding platform for the accumulation of a myriad of DDR factors on chromatin regions surrounding DNA lesions. Despite its important role in DDR, no homolog of MDC1 outside of metazoans has been described. Here, we report the characterization of Mdb1, a protein from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, which shares significant sequence homology with human MDC1 in their C-terminal tandem BRCT (tBRCT) domains. We show that in vitro, recombinant Mdb1 protein binds a phosphorylated H2A (γH2A) peptide, and the phospho-specific binding requires two conserved phospho-binding residues in the tBRCT domain of Mdb1. In vivo, Mdb1 forms nuclear foci at DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) induced by the HO endonuclease and ionizing radiation (IR). IR-induced Mdb1 focus formation depends on γH2A and the phospho-binding residues of Mdb1. Deleting the mdb1 gene does not overtly affect DNA damage sensitivity in a wild type background, but alters the DNA damage sensitivity of cells lacking another γH2A binder Crb2. Overexpression of Mdb1 causes severe DNA damage sensitivity in a manner that requires the interaction between Mdb1 and γH2A. During mitosis, Mdb1 localizes to spindles and concentrates at spindle midzones at late mitosis. The spindle midzone localization of Mdb1 requires its phospho-binding residues, but is independent of γH2A. Loss of Mdb1 or mutating its phospho-binding residues makes cells more resistant to the microtubule depolymerizing drug thiabendazole. We propose that Mdb1 performs dual roles in DDR and mitotic spindle regulation.