Howard B. Lieberman, Sunil K. Panigrahi, Kevin M. Hopkins, Li Wang, Constantinos G. Broustas
Radiation Research 187 (4), 424-432, (31 January 2017) https://doi.org/10.1667/RR003CC.1
The way cells respond to DNA damage is important since inefficient repair or misrepair of lesions can have deleterious consequences, including mutation, genomic instability, neurodegenerative disorders, premature aging, cancer or death. Whether damage occurs spontaneously as a byproduct of normal metabolic processes, or after exposure to exogenous agents, cells muster a coordinated, complex DNA damage response (DDR) to mitigate potential harmful effects. A variety of activities are involved to promote cell survival, and include DNA repair, DNA damage tolerance, as well as transient cell cycle arrest to provide time for repair before entry into critical cell cycle phases, an event that could be lethal if traversal occurs while damage is present. When such damage is prolonged or not repairable, senescence, apoptosis or autophagy is induced. One major level of DDR regulation occurs via the orchestrated transcriptional control of select sets of genes encoding proteins that mediate the response. p53 is a transcription factor that transactivates specific DDR downstream genes through binding DNA consensus sequences usually in or near target gene promoter regions. The profile of p53-regulated genes activated at any given time varies, and is dependent upon type of DNA damage or stress experienced, exact composition of the consensus DNA binding sequence, presence of other DNA binding proteins, as well as cell context. RAD9 is another protein critical for the response of cells to DNA damage, and can also selectively regulate gene transcription. The limited studies addressing the role of RAD9 in transcription regulation indicate that the protein transactivates at least one of its target genes, p21/waf1/cip1, by binding to DNA sequences demonstrated to be a p53 response element. NEIL1 is also regulated by RAD9 through a similar DNA sequence, though not yet directly verified as a bonafide p53 response element. These findings suggest a novel pathway whereby p53 and RAD9 control the DDR through a shared mechanism involving an overlapping network of downstream target genes. Details and unresolved questions about how these proteins coordinate or compete to execute the DDR through transcriptional reprogramming, as well as biological implications, are discussed.