The mitochondrial outer-membrane location of the EXD2 exonuclease contradicts its direct role in nuclear DNA repair

Sci Rep. 2018 Mar 29;8(1):5368. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23690-y.


EXD2 is a recently identified exonuclease that has been implicated in nuclear double-strand break repair. Given our long standing interest in mitochondrial DNA maintenance and indications that EXD2 could also be a mitochondrial protein we sought to determine its cellular localization and possible mitochondrial associated functions. Our results show that EXD2 indeed shows mitochondrial localization, but, surprisingly, is found predominantly associated with the mitochondrial outer-membrane. Gradient purified nuclei show only the faintest hint of EXD2 presence while overexpression of the predicted full-length protein shows exclusive mitochondrial localization. Importantly, induction of double-strand DNA breaks via X-irradiation or Zeocin treatment does not support the notion that EXD2 re-locates to the nucleus following double-strand breaks and thus is unlikely to have a direct role in nuclear DNA repair. Knockdown or overexpression of EXD2 affects the cellular distribution of mitochondria. These results suggest that the reported defects in nuclear DNA repair following EXD2 depletion are likely an indirect consequence of altered mitochondrial dynamics and/or function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • DNA Repair*
  • Exonucleases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Exonucleases / genetics
  • Exonucleases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Exonucleases