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    Classical nonhomologous end joining (C-NHEJ) repairs DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) throughout interphase but predominates in G1 phase when homologous recombination is unavailable. Complexes containing the Ku70/80 ("Ku") and XRCC4/ligase IV (Lig4) core C-NHEJ factors are required, respectively, for sensing and joining DSBs. While XRCC4/Lig4 are absolutely required for joining RAG1/2 endonuclease ("RAG")-initiated DSBs during V(D)J recombination in G1-phase progenitor lymphocytes, cycling cells deficient for XRCC4/Lig4 also can join chromosomal DSBs by alternative end-joining (A-EJ) pathways. Restriction of V(D)J recombination by XRCC4/Lig4-mediated joining has been attributed to RAG shepherding V(D)J DSBs exclusively into the C-NHEJ pathway. Here, we report that A-EJ of DSB ends generated by RAG1/2, Cas9:gRNA, and Zinc finger endonucleases in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cell lines is suppressed by Ku. Thus, while diverse DSBs remain largely as free broken ends in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cells, deletion of Ku70 increases DSB rejoining and translocation levels to those observed in Ku70-deficient counterparts. Correspondingly, while RAG-initiated V(D)J DSB joining is abrogated in Lig4-deficient G1-arrested progenitor B cell lines, joining of RAG-generated DSBs in Ku70-deficient and Ku70/Lig4 double-deficient lines occurs through a translocation-like A-EJ mechanism. Thus, in G1-arrested, Lig4-deficient progenitor B cells are functionally end-joining suppressed due to Ku-dependent blockage of A-EJ, potentially in association with G1-phase down-regulation of Lig1. Finally, we suggest that differential impacts of Ku deficiency versus Lig4 deficiency on V(D)J recombination, neuronal apoptosis, and embryonic development results from Ku-mediated inhibition of A-EJ in the G1 cell cycle phase in Lig4-deficient developing lymphocyte and neuronal cells.


    Zhuoyi Liang, Vipul Kumar, Marie Le Bouteiller, Jeffrey Zurita, Josefin Kenrick, Sherry G Lin, Jiangman Lou, Jianqiao Hu, Adam Yongxin Ye, Cristian Boboila, Frederick W Alt, Richard L Frock. Ku70 suppresses alternative end joining in G1-arrested progenitor B cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2021 May 25;118(21)

    PMID: 34006647

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