Formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks caused by ionizing radiation in the Epstein-Barr virus minichromosome

Authors: Kumala, Slawomir
Advisor: Hancock, Ronald
Abstract: DNA in our cells is exposed continually to DNA-damaging agents. These include ultraviolet light, natural and man-made mutagenic chemicals, and reactive oxygen species generated by ionizing radiation or processes such as redox cycling by heavy metal ions and radio-mimetic drugs. Of the various forms of damage that are inflicted by these mutagens, the most dangerous are the single- and double-strand breaks (SSBs and DSBs) which disrupt the integrity of DNA and have to be repaired immediately and efficiently in order to preserve the stability and functioning of the genome. In the cell, induction and repair of strand breaks takes place in the context of chromatin where the molecular environment and the events involved are more complex and suitable experimental systems to explore them are much less developed. A major focus of my research was therefore aimed towards exploring these processes and developing new models which will allow us to look more precisely into the nature of induction and repair of SSBs and DSBs in DNA in vivo. We used as a model the naturally-occurring, 172 kb long Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) minichromosome which posses all the characteristics of genomic chromatin and is maintained naturally in Raji cells. Gamma-irradiation of cells induces one, randomly-located DSB and several SSBs in the minichromosome DNA, producing the linear form. The minichromosome is then resistant to further cleavage either by ionizing radiation or by other break-inducing reagents, suggesting the existence of a novel mechanism in which a first SSBs or DSBs in the minichromosome DNA results in a conformational change of its chromatin which confers insensitivity to the induction of further breaks. Supercoiled molecules of minichromosome DNA were reformed when cells were incubated after irradiation, implying that all SSBs and DSBs were repaired and both strands were covalently closed. Using specific inhibitors or siRNA depletion of repair enzymes, we found that Non Homologous End Joining was the predominant pathway responsible for DSB repair, whereas repair of SSBs was PARP-1 independent. We could also show clearly that topoisomerases I and II are not required for repair. Mathematical modeling of the kinetics of repair and calculation of rate constants revealed that repair of SSBs was independent of repair of DSBs and was the rate-limiting step in complete repair of minichromosomes. Overall, we propose that since this minichromosome is analogous in length and topology to the constrained loops which genomic chromatin is believed to form in vivo, these observations could provide more detailed insights into DNA breakage and repair in genomic chromatin.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2012
Open Access Date: 18 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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