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BRCA1 Mediated Homologous Recombination and S Phase DNA Repair Pathways Restrict LINE-1 Retrotransposition in Human Cells

By Xiaoji Sun, Paolo Mita, David J Kahler, Donghui Li, Aleksandra Wudzinska, Chi Yun, Joel S Bader, David Fenyƶ, Jef D Boeke

Posted 13 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/701458

Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is the only autonomous retrotransposon active in human cells. L1s DNA makes about 17% of the human genome and retrotransposition of a few active L1 copies has been detected in various tumors, underscoring the potential role of L1 in mediating or increasing genome instability during tumorigenic development. Different host factors have been shown to influence L1 mobility through several mechanisms. However, systematic analyses of host factors affecting L1 retrotransposition are limited. Here, we developed a high-throughput microscopy-based retrotransposition assay and coupled it to a genome-wide siRNA knockdown screen to study the cellular regulators of L1 retrotransposition in human cells. We showed that L1 insertion frequency was stimulated by knockdown of Double-Stranded Break (DSB) repair factors that are active in the S/G2 phase of the cell cycle including Homologous Recombination (HR), Fanconi Anemia (FA) and, to a less extent, microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ) factors. In particular, we show that BRCA1, an E3 ubiquitin ligase with a key role in several DNA repair pathways, plays multiple roles in regulating L1; BRCA1 knockdown directly affects L1 retrotransposition frequency and structure and also plays a role in controlling L1 ORF2 protein translation through L1 mRNA binding. These results suggest the existence of a "battle" between HR factors and L1 retrotransposons, revealing a potential role for L1 in development of tumors characterized by BRCA1 and HR repair deficiencies.

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