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Cellular stressors are known to inhibit the p53-RPA70 (replication protein A, 70 kDa subunit) complex, and RPA70 increases cellular DNA repair in cancer cells. We hypothesized that regulation of RPA70-mediated DNA repair might be responsible for the inhibition of apoptosis in hypoxic tumours. We have shown that, in cancer cells, hypoxia disrupts the p53-RPA70 complex, thereby enhancing RPA70-mediated NER (nucleotide excision repair)/NHEJ (non-homologous end-joining) repair. In normal cells, RPA70 binds to the p53-NTD (N-terminal domain), whereas this binding is disrupted in hypoxia. Phosphorylation of p53-NTD is a crucial event in dissociating both NTD-RPA70 and p53-RPA70 complexes. Serial mutations at serine and threonine residues in the NTD confirm that p53(Ser15) phosphorylation induces dissociation of the p53-RPA70 complex in hypoxia. DNA-PK (DNA-dependent protein kinase) is shown to induce p53(Ser15) phosphorylation, thus enhancing RPA70-mediated NER/NHEJ repair. Furthermore, RPA70 gene silencing induces significant increases in cellular apoptosis in the resistant hypoxic cancer cells. We have thus elucidated a novel pathway showing how DNA-PK-mediated p53(Ser15) phosphorylation dissociates the p53-RPA70 complex, thus enhancing NER/NHEJ repair, which causes resistance to apoptosis in hypoxic cancer cells. This novel finding may open new strategies in developing cancer therapeutics on the basis of the regulation of RPA70-mediated NER/NHEJ repair.


Esha Madan, Rajan Gogna, Uttam Pati. p53 Ser15 phosphorylation disrupts the p53-RPA70 complex and induces RPA70-mediated DNA repair in hypoxia. The Biochemical journal. 2012 May 1;443(3):811-20

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PMID: 22288499

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