PCNA modifications for regulation of post-replication repair pathways

Mol Cells. 2008 Jul 31;26(1):5-11. Epub 2008 Jun 4.


Stalled DNA replication forks activate specific DNA repair mechanism called post-replication repair (PRR) pathways that simply bypass DNA damage. The bypassing of DNA damage by PRR prevents prolonged stalling of DNA replication that could result in double strand breaks (DSBs). Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) functions to initiate and choose different bypassing pathways of PRR. In yeast, DNA replication forks stalled by DNA damage induces monoubiquitination of PCNA at K164, which is catalyzed by Rad6/Rad18 complex. PCNA monoubiquitination triggers the replacement of replicative polymerase with special translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases that are able to replicate past DNA lesions. The PCNA interaction motif and/or the ubiquitin binding motif in most TLS polymerases seem to be important for the regulation of TLS. The TLS pathway is usually error-prone because TLS polymerases have low fidelity and no proofreading activity. PCNA can also be further polyubiquitinated by Ubc13/ Mms2/Rad5 complex, which adds an ubiquitin chain onto monoubiquitinated K164 of PCNA. PCNA polyubiquitination directs a different PRR pathway known as error-free damage avoidance, which uses the newly synthesized sister chromatid as a template to bypass DNA damage presumably through template switching mechanism. Mammalian homologues of all of the yeast PRR proteins have been identified, thus PRR is well conserved throughout evolution. Mutations of some PRR genes are associated with a higher risk for cancers in mice and human patients, strongly supporting the importance of PRR as a tumor suppressor pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • DNA Replication*
  • Humans
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Ubiquitination


  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen