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The eukaryotic TFIIH complex is involved in Nucleotide Excision Repair and transcription initiation. We analyzed three yeast mutations of the Rad3/XPD helicase of TFIIH known as rem (recombination and mutation phenotypes). We found that, in these mutants, incomplete NER reactions lead to replication fork breaking and the subsequent engagement of the homologous recombination machinery to restore them. Nevertheless, the penetrance varies among mutants, giving rise to a phenotype gradient. Interestingly, the mutations analyzed reside at the ATP-binding groove of Rad3 and in vivo experiments reveal a gain of DNA affinity upon damage of the mutant Rad3 proteins. Since mutations at the ATP-binding groove of XPD in humans are present in the Xeroderma pigmentosum-Cockayne Syndrome (XP-CS), we recreated rem mutations in human cells, and found that these are XP-CS-like. We propose that the balance between the loss of helicase activity and the gain of DNA affinity controls the capacity of TFIIH to open DNA during NER, and its persistence at both DNA lesions and promoters. This conditions NER efficiency and transcription resumption after damage, which in human cells would explain the XP-CS phenotype, opening new perspectives to understand the molecular basis of the role of XPD in human disease.


Emilia Herrera-Moyano, María Moriel-Carretero, Beth A Montelone, Andrés Aguilera. The rem mutations in the ATP-binding groove of the Rad3/XPD helicase lead to Xeroderma pigmentosum-Cockayne syndrome-like phenotypes. PLoS genetics. 2014 Dec;10(12):e1004859

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PMID: 25500814

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