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CUT Domain Proteins In DNA Repair And Cancer

Zubaidah M. Ramdzan, Elise Vickridge, Camila C. F. Faraco, Alain Nepveu

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Recent studies revealed that CUT domains function as accessory factors that accelerate DNA repair by stimulating the enzymatic activities of the base excision repair enzymes OGG1, APE1, and DNA pol β. Strikingly, the role of CUT domain proteins in DNA repair is exploited by cancer cells to facilitate their survival. Cancer cells in which the RAS pathway is activated produce an excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which, if not counterbalanced by increased production of antioxidants, causes sustained oxidative DNA damage and, ultimately, cell senescence. These cancer cells can adapt by increasing their capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage in part through elevated expression of CUT domain proteins such as CUX1, CUX2, or SATB1. In particular, CUX1 overexpression was shown to cooperate with RAS in the formation of mammary and lung tumors in mice. Conversely, knockdown of CUX1, CUX2, or SATB1 was found to be synthetic lethal in cancer cells exhibiting high ROS levels as a consequence of activating mutations in KRAS, HRAS, BRAF, or EGFR. Importantly, as a byproduct of their adaptation, cancer cells that overexpress CUT domain proteins exhibit increased resistance to genotoxic treatments such as ionizing radiation, temozolomide, and cisplatin.