RAD6B overexpression confers chemoresistance: RAD6 expression during cell cycle and its redistribution to chromatin during DNA damage-induced response

Oncogene. 2004 Apr 15;23(17):3097-106. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207449.


The HR6A and HR6B genes, homologs of the yeast RAD6 gene, encode ubiquitin conjugating enzymes that are required for postreplication repair (PRR) of DNA and damage-induced mutagenesis. We show here that consistent with its role as a PRR protein, HR6 protein (referred as RAD6) expression is cell cycle regulated, with maximal levels expressed in late S/G2 phases of the cell cycle. Exposure of MCF10A cells to adriamycin (ADR) causes enhancement in the levels of RAD6B mRNA and protein. Inclusion of actinomycin D abolishes both basal and ADR-induced RAD6B transcription indicating that ADR-induced effects on RAD6B transcription result from an increase in transcriptional activity rather than from regulation of RAD6B mRNA stability. The increase in RAD6 protein expression observed in ADR-treated cells is dependent upon transcription and de novo protein synthesis, as addition of actinomycin D and cycloheximide eliminated the induction effects. Using in vivo crosslinking experiments, we demonstrate that only a small proportion of RAD6 is associated with chromatin in untreated MCF10A cells. However, treatment with ADR or cisplatin is accompanied by a significant increase and redistribution of RAD6 to DNA, and RAD6, RAD18, PCNA, phosphohistone H3, as well as p53 proteins are all found in the DNA fractions. These findings suggest that although RAD6 protein is present in the nucleus, its recruitment to the chromatin appears to be modulated by DNA damage. Whereas MCF10A cells engineered to overexpress ectopic RAD6B are significantly more resistant to ADR and cisplatin as compared to empty vector-transfected cells, MCF10A cells stably transfected with antisense RAD6B display hypersensitivity to these damage-inducing drugs. Analysis of PRR capacities in cisplatin-treated MCF10A cells stably transfected with empty vector, RAD6B or antisense RAD6B showed that whereas RAD6B-overexpressing and vector control MCF10A cells possessed the ability to convert newly synthesized DNA to higher molecular weight species, MCF10A cells depleted of RAD6B are PRR-compromised. Although no human diseases have been linked to mutations in the PRR pathway genes, these data suggest that RAD6 may play an essential role in DNA damage tolerance and recovery via modulation of PRR, and that imbalances in the levels of RAD6 could lead to changes in drug sensitivity and damage-induced mutagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / drug effects
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • DNA, Antisense / genetics
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Dactinomycin
  • Doxorubicin
  • UBE2B protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes