Exposure to environmental toxins, radiation and errors in endogenous DNA metabolism give rise to DNA damage. Knowledge of the cellular DNA repair mechanisms that correct such DNA lesions are vital towards combating genomic instability ? a prevailing cause of cancers and associated disorders. To correct such errors, double stranded DNA is unwound and the transiently opened single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) is protected and coated by Replication Protein A (RPA), a high affinity multi-domain enzyme. Formation of RPA-ssDNA complexes trigger the DNA repair checkpoint response and is a key step in activating most DNA repair pathways. ssDNA-bound by RPA is handed-off to lesion-specific DNA repair proteins. The precise mechanisms of how this functional specificity is achieved is poorly resolved. Towards addressing this gap in knowledge, our long-term goals are to answer the following questions: a) RPA physically interacts with over two dozen DNA processing enzymes; how are these interactions determined and prioritized? b) RPA binds to ssDNA with high affinity (KD >10-10 M); how do DNA metabolic enzymes that bind to DNA with micromolar affinities remove RPA? c) Does RPA play a role in positioning the recruited enzymes (with appropriate polarity) onto the DNA? d) How are the DNA and protein interaction activities of RPA tuned by post translational modifications? To address these questions, and to investigate the dynamics of RPA in the presence of multiple other DNA binding enzymes, we have successfully developed an experimental strategy where the individual DNA binding domains (DBDs) of RPA are labeled with a fluorophore. Upon binding to ssDNA, a robust change in fluorescence is observed and thus serves as a real-time reporter of its dynamics on DNA. We achieved this through incorporation of noncanonical amino acids and attachment of fluorophores using strain promoted click chemistry. Using this methodology, we have uncovered how each domain within RPA binds/dissociates on ssDNA and present a new paradigm for RPA function. There are four DBDs (A, B, C and D) in RPA and, for over three decades, DBD-A & B have been thought to bind with highest affinity based on biochemical investigation of isolated DBDs. These findings have served as a foundation for all models of RPA in DNA replication, repair and recombination. Our work capturing RPA dynamics in the full-length context reveals the opposite, where DBDs A & B are highly dynamic whereas DBDs C & D are stable. These startling findings completely alter the existing paradigm for RPA function and form the basis of the proposed work investigating how specific RPA interacting proteins (RIPs) gain access to DNA. Specifically, RPA modeling by NEIL1 and UNG2 during base excision repair (Aim 1) and by XPA during nucleotide excision repair (Aim 2) will be investigated. In addition, the role of phosphorylation in determining RPA specificity in DNA repair will be explored (Aim 3). Results from the proposed work will delineate how RIPs interact with RPA, remodel its DBDs and gain access to the buried ssDNA.
Defects in nucleotide excision repair (NER) and base excision repair (BER) are associated with genomic instability resulting in a variety of cancers and inherited disorders. The proposed studies will delineate the mechanism by which cells repair lesions that occur through environmental carcinogens and endogenous metabolic errors. The results from our research will have a direct relevance to understanding how mutations in these enzymes cause cancer in order to better direct therapeutic interventions.