The telomeric DNA damage response: Insights into telomere compaction and identification of novel damage signaling factors

Telomeres are dynamic nucleo-protein structures capping the ends of all eukaryotic chromosomes. Together with telomerase, they counteract replication-dependent telomere attrition. Additionally, they disguise the linear ends of the chromosome from the DNA damage response (DDR) machinery. Otherwise, the chromosome end would be recognized as a DSB and would elicit a deleterious DDR signal. Both of these functions contribute greatly to the maintenance of genome stability. Telomeres are composed of repetitive DNA sequences, protein complex dubbed shelterin and telomeric repeat-containing RNAs. In addition to the core protein complex, other proteins are important for proper telomere structure and function. Our laboratory has a longstanding interest in the discovery of novel factors that have indispensable roles in telomere biology. For that purpose, previous lab members developed a Quantitative Telomeric Chromatin Isolation protocol (QTIP) and detected binding of new proteins to long telomeres, SMCHD1 and LRIF1. Their function at telomeres is not described but they are shown to function in higher-order chromatin organization and genome-wide DDR. Understanding their role in telomere biology is important because the list of players involved in DDR at telomeres is far from complete and we know very little about how chromatin structure affects DDR activation. Thus, this thesis provides insights into the DDR at telomeres by studying the functions of SMCHD1 and LRIF1 and describes the implementation of a novel microscopy-based method to study the role of these proteins and shelterins in early steps of the DDR. Firstly, we describe crucial roles for SMCHD1 and LRIF1 in DDR activation at telomeres lacking shelterin protein TRF2. Removal of TRF2 leads to activation of the ATM kinase and elicits a DDR giving rise to persistent chromosome fusions. We show that LRIF1 and SMCHD1 removal leads to attenuation of ATM activation and subsequent DDR defect as well as impairment in non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) at unprotected telomeres. Considering that these phenotypes are rescued by removal of TPP1 and activation of the ATR kinase we propose that these proteins mainly participate in DDR signaling operating at uncapped telomeres. They are among the rare ones described to act early in the DDR cascade upon TRF2 removal. Stimulated by the discovery that SMCHD1 and LRIF1 function in X-chromosome compaction, we sought to test if they would function in remodeling telomeric chromatin. To do that, we have implemented super-resolution microscopy method (STORM) to measure sizes and shapes of normal human telomeres and ones lacking SMCHD, LRIF1, and shelterin. We have shown, by examination of thousands of telomeres, that removal of shelterin proteins leads to decompaction of only a small subset of telomeres. This decompaction is not required for efficient DDR activation, as the DDR was also efficiently elicited from compacted TRF2-depleted telomeres. Thus, we propose that DDR is triggered by changes at the molecular level in protein recruitment upon telomere deprotec-tion. In addition, transient removal of SMCHD1 and LRIF1 did not affect the compaction state of telo-meres as they do in the X-chromosome. Overall, we have described two novel factors that are important for DDR at uncapped telomeres and excluded the need for decompaction as the initial step of DDR at uncapped telomeres and excluded the need for decompaction as the initial step of DDR activation.


Advisor(s):
Lingner, Joachim
Year:
2018
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Laboratories:
UPLIN


Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only


 Record created 2018-10-15, last modified 2019-05-09

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