Cells employ a complex network of molecular pathways to cope with endogenous and exogenous genotoxic stress. This multilayered response ensures that genomic lesions are efficiently detected and faithfully repaired in order to safeguard genome integrity. The molecular choreography at sites of DNA damage relies heavily on post-translational modifications (PTMs). Protein modifications with ubiquitin and the small ubiquitin-like modifier SUMO have recently emerged as important regulatory means to coordinate DNA damage signaling and repair. Both ubiquitylation and SUMOylation can lead to extensive chain-like protein modifications, a feature that is shared with yet another DNA damage-induced PTM, the modification of proteins with poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR). Chains of ubiquitin, SUMO, and PAR all contribute to the multi-protein assemblies found at sites of DNA damage and regulate their spatio-temporal dynamics. Here, we review recent advancements in our understanding of how ubiquitin, SUMO, and PAR coordinate the DNA damage response and highlight emerging examples of an intricate interplay between these chain-like modifications during the cellular response to genotoxic stress.
Keywords: DDR; DNA damage response; PARP; SUMO; cancer; genome stability; poly(ADP-ribose); ubiquitin.