MRE11 nuclease forms a trimeric complex (MRN) with RAD50 and NBS1 and plays a central role in preventing genomic instability. When DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) occur, MRN is quickly recruited to the damage site and initiates DNA end resection; accordingly, MRE11 must be tightly regulated to avoid inefficient repair or nonspecific resection. Here, we show that MRE11 and RAD50 form a complex (MRC) with C1QBP, which stabilizes MRE11/RAD50, while inhibiting MRE11 nuclease activity by preventing its binding to DNA or chromatin. Upon DNA damage, ATM phosphorylates MRE11-S676/S678 to quickly dissociate the MRC complex. Either excess or insufficient C1QBP impedes the recruitment of MRE11 to DSBs and impairs the DNA damage response. C1QBP is highly expressed in breast cancer and positively correlates with MRE11 expression, and the inhibition of C1QBP enhances tumor regression with chemotherapy. By influencing MRE11 at multiple levels, C1QBP is, thus, an important player in the DNA damage response.
Keywords: C1QBP; DNA damage repair; DNA double-strand breaks; MRE11; MRN complex; homologous recombination.
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