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International Journal of Molecular Sciences





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Double-strand breaks (DSB) are one of the most lethal forms of DNA damage that, if left unrepaired, can lead to genomic instability, cellular transformation, and cell death. In this work, we examined how repair of transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-induced DNA damage was altered when knocking out, or inhibiting a function of, two DNA repair proteins, XRCC4 and MRE11, respectively. We developed a fluorescent reporter assay that uses TALENs to introduce DSB and detected repair by the presence of GFP fluorescence. We observed repair of TALEN-induced breaks in the XRCC4 knockout cells treated with mirin (a pharmacological inhibitor of MRE11 exonuclease activity), albeit with ~40% reduced efficiency compared to normal cells. Editing in the absence of XRCC4 or MRE11 exonuclease was robust, with little difference between the indel profiles amongst any of the groups. Reviewing the transcriptional profiles of the mirin-treated XRCC4 knockout cells showed 307 uniquely differentially expressed genes, a number far greater than for either of the other cell lines (the HeLa XRCC4 knockout sample had 83 genes, and the mirin-treated HeLa cells had 30 genes uniquely differentially expressed). Pathways unique to the XRCC4 knockout+mirin group included differential expression of p53 downstream pathways, and metabolic pathways indicating cell adaptation for energy regulation and stress response. In conclusion, our study showed that TALEN-induced DSBs are repaired, even when a key DSB repair protein or protein function is not operational, without a change in indel profiles. However, transcriptional profiles indicate the induction of unique cellular responses dependent upon the DNA repair protein(s) hampered.


DNA repair; End joining; Mirin; NHEJ; TALEN; XRCC4


Cell Biology | Molecular Biology

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