Roles of RNA-binding proteins in DNA damage response

Mihoko Kai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Living cells experience DNA damage as a result of replication errors and oxidative metabolism, exposure to environmental agents (e.g., ultraviolet light, ionizing radiation (IR)), and radiation therapies and chemotherapies for cancer treatments. Accumulation of DNA damage can lead to multiple diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders, cancers, immune deficiencies, infertility, and also aging. Cells have evolved elaborate mechanisms to deal with DNA damage. Networks of DNA damage response (DDR) pathways are coordinated to detect and repair DNA damage, regulate cell cycle and transcription, and determine the cell fate. Upstream factors of DNA damage checkpoints and repair, “sensor” proteins, detect DNA damage and send the signals to downstream factors in order to maintain genomic integrity. Unexpectedly, we have discovered that an RNA-processing factor is involved in DNA repair processes. We have identified a gene that contributes to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)’s treatment resistance and recurrence. This gene, RBM14, is known to function in transcription and RNA splicing. RBM14 is also required for maintaining the stem-like state of GBM spheres, and it controls the DNA-PK-dependent non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway by interacting with KU80. RBM14 is a RNA-binding protein (RBP) with low complexity domains, called intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs), and it also physically interacts with PARP1. Furthermore, RBM14 is recruited to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) in a poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR)-dependent manner (unpublished data). DNA-dependent PARP1 (poly-(ADP) ribose polymerase 1) makes key contributions in the DNA damage response (DDR) network. RBM14 therefore plays an important role in a PARP-dependent DSB repair process. Most recently, it was shown that the other RBPs with intrinsically disordered domains are recruited to DNA damage sites in a PAR-dependent manner, and that these RBPs form liquid compartments (also known as “liquid-demixing”). Among the PAR-associated IDPs are FUS/TLS (fused in sarcoma/translocated in sarcoma), EWS (Ewing sarcoma), TARF15 (TATA box-binding protein-associated factor 68 kDa) (also called FET proteins), a number of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs), and RBM14. Importantly, various point mutations within the FET genes have been implicated in pathological protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases, specifically with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and frontotemporal lobe degeneration (FTLD). The FET proteins also frequently exhibit gene translocation in human cancers, and emerging evidence shows their physical interactions with DDR proteins and thus implies their involvement in the maintenance of genome stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number310
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 27 2016


  • DNA damage
  • DNA repair
  • FUS
  • Intrinsically disordered proteins
  • Prion-like domain
  • RBM14
  • RNA-binding proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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