Resection of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is a pivotal step during which the choice between NHEJ and HR DNA repair pathways is made. Although CDKs are known to control initiation of resection, their role in regulating long-range resection remains elusive. Here we show that CDKs 1/2 phosphorylate the long-range resection nuclease EXO1 at four C-terminal S/TP sites during S/G2 phases of the cell cycle. Impairment of EXO1 phosphorylation attenuates resection, chromosomal integrity, cell survival and HR, but augments NHEJ upon DNA damage. In contrast, cells expressing phospho-mimic EXO1 are proficient in resection even after CDK inhibition and favour HR over NHEJ. Mutation of cyclin-binding sites on EXO1 attenuates CDK binding and EXO1 phosphorylation, causing a resection defect that can be rescued by phospho-mimic mutations. Mechanistically, phosphorylation of EXO1 augments its recruitment to DNA breaks possibly via interactions with BRCA1. In summary, phosphorylation of EXO1 by CDKs is a novel mechanism regulating repair pathway choice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology