DNA double-strand break repair by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) is generally considered to be an imprecise repair pathway. In order to study repair of a blunt, 5′ phosphorylated break in the DNA of mammalian fibroblasts, we used the E. coli cut-and-paste type transposon Tn5. We found that the Tn5 transposase can mediate transposon excision in Chinese hamster cell lines. Interestingly, a blunt 5′ phosphorylated break could efficiently be repaired without loss of nucleotides in wild type fibroblasts. Catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKCS) deficiency reduced the efficiency of joining four-fold without reducing precision, whereas both efficiency and accuracy of joining were affected in Ku80 or XRCC4 mutant cell lines. These results show that both the DNA-PK and the XRCC4/ligase IV complexes are required for NHEJ and that other, more error-prone, repair processes cannot efficiently substitute for joining of blunt breaks produced in living cells. Interestingly, the severity of the end-joining defect differs between the various mutants, which may explain the difference in the severity of the phenotypes, which have been observed in the corresponding mouse models.

DNA repair, Tn5 transposase, Transposition, V(D)J recombination
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dnarep.2003.09.004, hdl.handle.net/1765/62146
D N A Repair
Department of Molecular Genetics

van Heemst, D, Brugmans, L.J.L, Verkaik, N.S, & van Gent, D.C. (2004). End-joining of blunt DNA double-strand breaks in mammalian fibroblasts is precise and requires DNA-PK and XRCC4. D N A Repair, 3(1), 43–50. doi:10.1016/j.dnarep.2003.09.004