University of Sussex
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Structural and functional characterisation of the Nonhomologous End-­-Joining proteins of the archaeon Methanocella Paludicola

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posted on 2023-06-08, 16:19 authored by Edward J Bartlett
Maintenance of the genome is essential for life to prosper. Regular insults to the genome are sustained by all cellular life and can foster genetic instability if left unrepaired. The most lethal genetic damage is a double strand break (DSB), the cleavage of the phosphate backbone on both strands of the DNA double helix. Two main pathways exist which provide mechanisms for coping with DSBs; precise repair utilising the identical sister chromatid as a template to recreate the broken segment (homologous recombination; HR), and direct fusion of the broken ends in the absence of an intact template (nonhomologous end joining; NHEJ). NHEJ was first characterised in eukaryotes, and an analogous system has been found to exist in bacteria during the past decade. The bacterial NHEJ pathway is composed of four key proteins; the DNA end binding Ku homodimer, a DNA Ligase, a DNA polymerase and a phosphoesterase (PE). The first results chapter of this thesis details the identification of an orthologous set of proteins in the archaeon Methanocella paludicola, and their subsequent isolation and characterisation. The second results chapter expands on the individual activities of the proteins by combining them, and asserting the ability of archaeal NHEJ to join discontinuous ends in vitro. The role of the PE has been unclear in the bacterial system, but in vitro assays described here suggest that the enzyme plays a role in processing NHEJ intermediates formed by the NHEJ polymerase. The PE is found to optimise repair intermediates for ligation, and to reverse potentially genotoxic DNA strand displacements. The final results chapter investigates the structural aspects of the archaeal NHEJ enzymes. Together these studies establish a functional NHEJ system in an archaeon for the first time, and expand our knowledge of the bacterial system by proposing a standard model of archaeo---prokaryotic NHEJ.


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University of Sussex

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