A neomorphic cancer cell-specific role of MAGE-A4 in trans-lesion synthesis

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Trans-lesion synthesis (TLS) is an important DNA-damage tolerance mechanism that permits ongoing DNA synthesis in cells harbouring damaged genomes. The E3 ubiquitin ligase RAD18 activates TLS by promoting recruitment of Y-family DNA polymerases to sites of DNA-damage-induced replication fork stalling. Here we identify the cancer/testes antigen melanoma antigen-A4 (MAGE-A4) as a tumour cell-specific RAD18-binding partner and an activator of TLS. MAGE-A4 depletion from MAGE-A4-expressing cancer cells destabilizes RAD18. Conversely, ectopic expression of MAGE-A4 (in cell lines lacking endogenous MAGE-A4) promotes RAD18 stability. DNA-damage-induced mono-ubiquitination of the RAD18 substrate PCNA is attenuated by MAGE-A4 silencing. MAGE-A4-depleted cells fail to resume DNA synthesis normally following ultraviolet irradiation and accumulate γH2AX, thereby recapitulating major hallmarks of TLS deficiency. Taken together, these results demonstrate a mechanism by which reprogramming of ubiquitin signalling in cancer cells can influence DNA damage tolerance and probably contribute to an altered genomic landscape.




Gao, Y., Mutter-Rottmayer, E., Greenwalt, A. M., Goldfarb, D., Yan, F., Yang, Y., … Vaziri, C. (2016). A neomorphic cancer cell-specific role of MAGE-A4 in trans-lesion synthesis. Nature Communications, 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12105

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