N-terminal BRCT domains of the DNA damage checkpoint proteins TOPBP1/Rad4 display distinct specificities for phosphopeptide ligands
TOPBP1 and its fission yeast homologue Rad4, are critical players in a range of DNA replication, repair and damage signalling processes. They are composed of multiple BRCT domains, some of which have the capacity to bind phosphorylated motifs in other proteins. They thus act as multi-point adaptors bringing proteins together into functional combinations, dependent on post-translational modifications downstream of cell cycle and DNA damage signals. We have now structurally and/or biochemically characterised a sufficient number of high-affinity complexes for the conserved N-terminal region of TOPBP1 and Rad4 in complex with diverse phospho-ligands - which include human RAD9 and Treslin, as well as S.pombe Crb2 and Sld3 - to define the key determinants of BRCT domain specificity. We use this information to identify and characterise previously unknown phosphorylation-dependent TOPBP1/Rad4-binding motifs in human RHNO1 and the fission yeast homologue of MDC1, Mdb1. These results provide important insights into how multiple BRCT domains within TOPBP1/Rad4 achieve selective and combinatorial binding of their multiple partner proteins.
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