BRCT domain interactions with phospho-histone H2A target Crb2 to chromatin at double-strand breaks and maintain the DNA damage checkpoint Academic Article uri icon

related to degree

  • Sofueva, Sevil, Ph.D., Scripps Research , Joint graduate program with Oxford University 2005 - 2010

publication date

  • 2010


  • Relocalization of checkpoint proteins to chromatin flanking DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is critical for cellular responses to DNA damage. Schizosaccharomyces pombe Crb2, which mediates Chk1 activation by Rad3(ATR), forms ionizing radiation-induced nuclear foci (IRIF). Crb2 C-terminal BRCT domains (BRCT(2)) bind histone H2A phosphorylated at a C-terminal SQ motif by Tel1(ATM) and Rad3(ATR), although the functional significance of this interaction is controversial. Here, we show that polar interactions of Crb2 serine-548 and lysine-619 with the phosphate group of phospho-H2A (γ-H2A) are critical for Crb2 IRIF formation and checkpoint function. Mutations of these BRCT(2) domain residues have additive effects when combined in a single allele. Combining either mutation with an allele that eliminates the threonine-215 cyclin-dependent kinase phosphorylation site completely abrogates Crb2 IRIF and function. We propose that cooperative phosphate interactions in the BRCT(2) γ-H2A-binding pocket of Crb2, coupled with tudor domain interactions with lysine-20 dimethylation of histone H4, facilitate stable recruitment of Crb2 to chromatin surrounding DSBs, which in turn mediates efficient phosphorylation of Chk1 that is required for a sustained checkpoint response. This mechanism of cooperative interactions with the γ-H2A/X phosphate is likely conserved in S. pombe Brc1 and human Mdc1 genome maintenance proteins.