Reversible topoisomerase I (Top1)-DNA cleavage complexes are the key DNA lesion induced by anticancer camptothecins (e.g. topotecan and irinotecan) as well as structurally perturbed DNAs (e.g. oxidatively damaged DNA, UV-irradiated DNA, alkylated DNA, uracil-substituted DNA, mismatched DNA, gapped and nicked DNA, and DNA with abasic sites). Top1 cleavage complexes arrest transcription and trigger transcription-dependent degradation of Top1, a phenomenon termed Top1 down-regulation. In the current study, we have investigated the role of Top1 down-regulation in the repair of Top1 cleavage complexes. Using quiescent (serum-starved) human WI-38 cells, camptothecin (CPT) was shown to induce Top1 down-regulation, which paralleled the induction of DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs) (assayed by comet assays) and ATM autophosphorylation (at Ser-1981). Interestingly, Top1 down-regulation, induction of DNA SSBs and ATM autophosphorylation were all abolished by the proteasome inhibitor MG132. Furthermore, studies using immunoprecipitation and dominant-negative ubiquitin mutants have suggested a specific requirement for the assembly of Lys-48-linked polyubiquitin chains for CPT-induced Top1 down-regulation. In contrast to the effect of proteasome inhibition, inactivation of PARP1 was shown to increase the amount of CPT-induced SSBs and the level of ATM autophosphorylation. Together, these results support a model in which Top1 cleavage complexes arrest transcription and activate a ubiquitin-proteasome pathway leading to the degradation of Top1 cleavage complexes. Degradation of Top1 cleavage complexes results in the exposure of Top1-concealed SSBs for repair through a PARP1-dependent process.
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