University of Sussex
Brunton,_Holly.pdf (4.51 MB)

Investigating the role of higher order chromatin structure and DNA damage complexity on ATM signalling and G2/M checkpoint arrest

Download (4.51 MB)
posted on 2023-06-07, 16:03 authored by Holly Brunton
In response to DNA double stranded breaks (DSBs), mammalian cells have evolved two major repair pathways, DNA Non Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) and Homologous Recombination (HR). The majority of DSB repair in G1 and G2 phase is repaired with fast kinetics by NHEJ in a pathway that involves the core NHEJ factors: Ku, DNA-PKcs, XLF, DNA Ligase IV and XRCC4. A subset of slow repairing DSBs also requires ATM and Artemis (Riballo et al, 2004). This slow component of repair represents DSBs that reside within highly compacted regions of the genome known as heterochromatin (HC) (Goodarzi et al, 2008). ATM functions at HC to mediate relaxation by phosphorylating the HC building factor KAP-1 (Goodarzi et al, 2008). Here I provide evidence that DSBs dependent upon Artemis for their repair also reside within regions of HC. However, unlike ATM, Artemis functions downstream of the HC relaxation process. In response to DSBs, ATM phosphorylates the histone variant H2AX (?H2AX). ?H2AX acts as a docking site for the localized recruitment and activation of DNA Damage Response (DDR) proteins. The expansion of ?H2AX can spread over megabases of DNA. Here I have shown that highly compacted KAP-1, MeCP2 and DNMT3B enriched chromatin acts as a barrier to IR induced ?H2AX expansion. In patient cells deficient for MeCP2 or DNMT3B proteins, such as Rett syndrome (MeCP2 deficient) and Immunodeficiency centromeric-instability facial-anomalies syndrome (DNMT3B deficient), ATM and Chk2 signalling is heightened, which is reflected in a hypersensitive and prolonged G2/M checkpoint arrest. These findings suggest that higher order chromatin complexity is a barrier to ATM signalling to the checkpoint machinery. In the final section of my thesis, I addressed what affect DNA damage complexity exerts on checkpoint arrest. Using exposure to heavy ion irradiation, which induces complex DSBs, I observed larger ?H2AX foci and prolonged G2/M checkpoint arrest.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • Biochemistry Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • dphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager