DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) leading to loss of nucleotides in the transcribed region can be lethal. Classical non-homologous end-joining (C-NHEJ) is the dominant pathway for DSB repair (DSBR) in adult mammalian cells. Here we report that during such DSBR, mammalian C-NHEJ proteins form a multiprotein complex with RNA polymerase II and preferentially associate with the transcribed genes after DSB induction. Depletion of C-NHEJ factors significantly abrogates DSBR in transcribed but not in non-transcribed genes. We hypothesized that nascent RNA can serve as a template for restoring the missing sequences, thus allowing error-free DSBR. We indeed found pre-mRNA in the C-NHEJ complex. Finally, when a DSB-containing plasmid with several nucleotides deleted within the E. coli lacZ gene was allowed time to repair in lacZ-expressing mammalian cells, a functional lacZ plasmid could be recovered from control but not C-NHEJ factor-depleted cells, providing important mechanistic insights into C-NHEJ-mediated error-free DSBR of the transcribed genome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)