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    Phosphorylation of histone H2AX by ATM and ATR establishes a chromatin recruitment platform for DNA damage response proteins. Phospho-H2AX (γH2AX) has been most intensively studied in the context of DNA double-strand breaks caused by exogenous clastogens, but recent studies suggest that DNA replication stress also triggers formation of γH2A (ortholog of γH2AX) in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here, a focused genetic screen in fission yeast reveals that γH2A is critical when there are defects in Replication Factor C (RFC), which loads proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) clamp onto duplex DNA. Surprisingly Chk1, Cds1/Chk2 and the Rad9-Hus1-Rad1 checkpoint clamp, which are crucial for surviving many genotoxins, are fully dispensable in RFC-defective cells. Immunoblot analysis confirms that Rad9-Hus1-Rad1 is not required for formation of γH2A by Rad3/ATR in S-phase. Defects in DNA polymerase epsilon, which binds PCNA in the replisome, also create an acute need for γH2A. These requirements for γH2A were traced to its role in docking with Brc1, which is a 6-BRCT-domain protein that is structurally related to budding yeast Rtt107 and mammalian PTIP. Brc1, which localizes at stalled replication forks by binding γH2A, prevents aberrant formation of Replication Protein A (RPA) foci in RFC-impaired cells, suggesting that Brc1-coated chromatin stabilizes replisomes when PCNA or DNA polymerase availability limits DNA synthesis.


    Eva Mejia-Ramirez, Oliver Limbo, Petra Langerak, Paul Russell. Critical Function of γH2A in S-Phase. PLoS genetics. 2015 Sep;11(9):e1005517

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    PMID: 26368543

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