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The DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), which is composed of the KU heterodimer and the large catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs), is a classical nonhomologous end-joining (cNHEJ) factor. Naïve B cells undergo class switch recombination (CSR) to generate antibodies with different isotypes by joining two DNA double-strand breaks at different switching regions via the cNHEJ pathway. DNA-PK and the cNHEJ pathway play important roles in the DNA repair phase of CSR. To initiate cNHEJ, KU binds to DNA ends and recruits and activates DNA-PK. Activated DNA-PK phosphorylates DNA-PKcs at the S2056 and T2609 clusters. Loss of T2609 cluster phosphorylation increases radiation sensitivity but whether T2609 phosphorylation has a role in physiological DNA repair remains elusive. Using the DNA-PKcs 5A mouse model carrying alanine substitutions at the T2609 cluster, here we show that loss of T2609 phosphorylation of DNA-PKcs does not affect the CSR efficiency. Yet, the CSR junctions recovered from DNA-PKcs 5A/5A B cells reveal increased chromosomal translocations, extensive use of distal switch regions (consistent with end resection), and preferential usage of microhomology-all signs of the alternative end-joining pathway. Thus, these results uncover a role of DNA-PKcs T2609 phosphorylation in promoting cNHEJ repair pathway choice during CSR.


Jennifer L Crowe, Xiaobin S Wang, Zhengping Shao, Brian J Lee, Verna M Estes, Shan Zha. DNA-PKcs phosphorylation at the T2609 cluster alters the repair pathway choice during immunoglobulin class switch recombination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2020 Sep 15;117(37):22953-22961

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PMID: 32868446

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