Replication protein A and gamma-H2AX foci assembly is triggered by cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks

Exp Cell Res. 2004 Nov 1;300(2):320-34. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2004.07.022.


Human replication protein A (RPA p34), a crucial component of diverse DNA excision repair pathways, is implicated in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair. To evaluate its role in DSB repair, the intranuclear dynamics of RPA was investigated after DNA damage and replication blockage in human cells. Using two different agents [ionizing radiation (IR) and hydroxyurea (HU)] to generate DSBs, we found that RPA relocated into distinct nuclear foci and colocalized with a well-known DSB binding factor, gamma-H2AX, at the sites of DNA damage in a time-dependent manner. Colocalization of RPA and gamma-H2AX foci peaked at 2 h after IR treatment and subsequently declined with increasing postrecovery times. The time course of RPA and gamma-H2AX foci association correlated well with the DSB repair activity detected by a neutral comet assay. A phosphatidylinositol-3 (PI-3) kinase inhibitor, wortmannin, completely abolished both RPA and gamma-H2AX foci formation triggered by IR. Additionally, radiosensitive ataxia telangiectasia (AT) cells harboring mutations in ATM gene product were found to be deficient in RPA and gamma-H2AX colocalization after IR. Transfection of AT cells with ATM cDNA fully restored the association of RPA foci with gamma-H2AX illustrating the requirement of ATM gene product for this process. The exact coincidence of RPA and gamma-H2AX in response to HU specifically in S-phase cells supports their role in DNA replication checkpoint control. Depletion of RPA by small interfering RNA (SiRNA) substantially elevated the frequencies of IR-induced micronuclei (MN) and apoptosis in human cells suggestive of a role for RPA in DSB repair. We propose that RPA in association with gamma-H2AX contributes to both DNA damage checkpoint control and repair in response to strand breaks and stalled replication forks in human cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • DNA Damage / physiology*
  • DNA Damage / radiation effects
  • DNA Repair / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective
  • Replication Protein A
  • Time Factors


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • RPA1 protein, human
  • Replication Protein A