Transcription influences repair-induced DNA methylation
Morano, Annalisa (2008) Transcription influences repair-induced DNA methylation. [Tesi di dottorato] (Inedito)
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This work is aimed at the dissection of the molecular mechanism(s) linking DNA damage and gene silencing. To this end, we have developed a genetic system that allows a rapid assessment of homologous-directed repair (HR) of an unique DNA double strand break (DSB). Briefly, we induced a DBS in the genome of HeLa or mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells using the I-SceI restriction endonuclease. Homologous recombination repair by gene conversion, initiated at the site of the double strand break, converts 2 inactivated tandem repeated green fluorescent protein (GFP) genes (DR-GFP) in an intact functional gene. The efficiency of HR, under our conditions, is approximately 2%–4% and can be easily quantified by analyzing GFP+ cells. Half of these recombinants expressed GFP poorly, because GFP gene was silenced. Silencing was rapid and associated with HR and DNA methylation of the recombinant gene, since HeLa DR-GFP treatment with 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine, a DNA demethylating drug, significantly increased the fraction of GFP expressing cells. Methylation did not alter recombination frequency in both cell types. ES cells deficient in DNA methyl-transferase 1 yielded as many recombinants as wild-type cells, but most of these recombinants expressed GFP robustly. Bisulfite analysis of GFP DNA molecules revealed that approximately half of the HR repaired molecules were de novo methylated, principally at the 3’-end of the DSB in a range of ~300bp. The other half GFP molecules were hypomethylated. Uncleaved and non-homologous repaired molecules did not show changes of the methylation profile. DNA methyl-transferase 1 bound specifically to HR GFP DNA, as revealed by chromatin immunoprecipitation and RNA analysis. HR induced novel methylation profiles on top of the old patterns and contributed to the silencing of GFP expression. Inhibition of transcription by -amanitin for a very short period (6-24 h during ISceI cleavage) significantly reduced the frequency of recombination. Surprisingly, the 2 classes of recombinants were better separated in terms of GFP expression. Methylation analysis showed that the methylated molecules were hypermethylated, whereas the hypomethylated GFP gene molecules were un-methylated, relative to the untreated samples. Taken together, our data support a mechanistic link between HR, DNA methylation and transcription. We propose that stalled RNA polymerase molecules slow down homologous recombination by interfering possibly with DNA polymerase complex or strand invasion. At the same time, RNA polymerase II transcription complex signals to DNMT1 the coding strand and facilitates strand selective DNA methylation. Overall, these data highlight a new and unexpected opportunity to understand the mechanisms of silencing of damaged and repaired genes.
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