Cockayne syndrome (CS) is a devastating autosomal recessive disease characterized by neurodegeneration, cachexia, and accelerated aging. 80% of the cases are caused by mutations in the CS complementation group B (CSB) gene known to be involved in DNA repair and transcription. In CS cells, there are deficiencies in the repair of oxidative DNA damage in the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, and this may be a major underlying cause of the disease. Previously we found that CSB-deficient cells accumulate oxidized bases, 8-hydroxyguanine and 8-hydroxyadenine, after oxidative stress, consistent with the observation that CSB and oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1), the major DNA glycosylase for 8-oxoG repair, are in a complex in vivo. We also found that the CSB protein physically interacts with the Nei-like DNA glycosylase, NEIL1, which is also involved in the repair of oxidized bases. This interaction significantly stimulates NEIL1 catalytic activities, both the glycosylase and the AP-lyase. The observation that CSB-deficient mice accumulate significantly higher levels of several oxidized DNA bases in brain tissue, including fapyadenine and fapyguanine, supports a role for the CSB protein in the removal of oxidized lesions in vivo. Previously we demonstrated that the CSB protein also interacts with PARP1, a protein involved in the early steps of single-strand break repair, and that these two proteins cooperate in the cellular responses to oxidative stress. CSB is a substrate for PARP-1 ribosylation and it is likely that these two proteins function together in the process of base excision. Our results indicate that the CSB protein plays an important role in the repair of oxidative DNA damage and that accumulation of unrepaired lesions, particular in target tissues, like the brain, may be relevant to the CS pathology, which is characterized by severe early onset neurodegeneration. To further explore the role of CSB in mitochondria, we evaluated the mitochondrial localization of CSB following oxidative stress. We found increased CSB localization to mitochondria following menadione treatment, which causes a form of oxidative stress. Additionally, we found reduced 8-oxo-guanine, uracil, and 5-hydroxy-uracil incision activities in CSB-deficient cells compared to wild-type cells. This deficiency correlated with a loss of mitochondrial inner membrane associated BER activities. These CSB-dependent changes had a functional consequence because we observed elevated mtDNA mutations in CSB deficient cells. Together the results suggest that CSB plays a direct role in mitochondrial BER by helping to recruit, stabilize, and/or retain BER proteins in repair complexes that in mitochondria are associated with the inner membrane. Not only does CSB play a role in mtDNA repair, we are also pursuing the proposal that CSB functions in mitochondria to modulate mitochondrial quality and thereby mitochondrial bioenergetics. The clinical features of mice carrying a mutation in CSB involve hearing loss, microglial activation and cachexia, and are mild compared to the catastrophic disease phenotype of CS in human patients. Our recent studies reveal novel complex features of the CSB mouse model, including elevated metabolic rate and altered autophagy. Mitochondrial content is increased in CSB-deficient cells, whereas autophagy is down-regulated, presumably as a result of defects in the recruitment of P62 and mitochondrial ubiquitination. CSB-deficient cells show increased free radical production and an accumulation of damaged mitochondria. Accordingly, treatment with the autophagic stimulators lithium chloride or rapamycin reverses the bioenergetic phenotype of CSB-deficient cells. Our data imply that CSB acts as an mtDNA damage sensor, inducing mitochondrial autophagy in response to stress, and that pharmacological modulators of autophagy are potential treatment options for this accelerated aging phenotype. In future studies, we plan to investigate whether the CSB mouse displayed a genetically-determined metabolic defect.  

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Lee, Ju Yeon; Lake, Robert J; Kirk, Jaewon et al. (2017) NAP1L1 accelerates activation and decreases pausing to enhance nucleosome remodeling by CSB. Nucleic Acids Res 45:4696-4707
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