Rad51-mediated homologous recombination (HR) is essential for maintenance of genome integrity. The Xrcc3 protein functions in HR DNA repair, and studies suggest it has multiple roles at different stages in this pathway. Defects in vertebrate XRCC3 result in elevated levels of spontaneous and DNA damage-induced chromosomal abnormalities, as well as increased sensitivity to DNA damaging agents. Formation of DNA damaged-induced nuclear Rad51 foci requires Xrcc3 and the other Rad51 paralog proteins (Rad51B, Rad51C, Rad51D, Xrcc2), thus supporting a model in which an early function of Xrcc3 involves promoting assembly of active Rad51 repair complexes. However, it is not known whether Xrcc3 or other Rad51 paralog proteins accumulate at DNA breaks, and if they do whether their stable association with breaks requires Rad51. Here we report for the first time that Xrcc3 forms distinct foci in human cells and that nuclear Xrcc3 begins to localize at sites of DNA damage within 10 min after radiation treatment. RNAi-mediated knock down of Rad51 has no effect on the DNA damage-induced localization of Xrcc3 to DNA breaks. Our data are consistent with a model in which Xrcc3 associates directly with DNA breaks independent of Rad51, and subsequently facilitates formation of the Rad51 nucleoprotein filament.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.