SAMHD1 restrains aberrant nucleotide insertions at repair junctions generated by DNA end joining

Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Mar 18;49(5):2598-2608. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab051.


Aberrant end joining of DNA double strand breaks leads to chromosomal rearrangements and to insertion of nuclear or mitochondrial DNA into breakpoints, which is commonly observed in cancer cells and constitutes a major threat to genome integrity. However, the mechanisms that are causative for these insertions are largely unknown. By monitoring end joining of different linear DNA substrates introduced into HEK293 cells, as well as by examining end joining of CRISPR/Cas9 induced DNA breaks in HEK293 and HeLa cells, we provide evidence that the dNTPase activity of SAMHD1 impedes aberrant DNA resynthesis at DNA breaks during DNA end joining. Hence, SAMHD1 expression or low intracellular dNTP levels lead to shorter repair joints and impede insertion of distant DNA regions prior end repair. Our results reveal a novel role for SAMHD1 in DNA end joining and provide new insights into how loss of SAMHD1 may contribute to genome instability and cancer development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9 / metabolism
  • Chromosome Breakage
  • DNA End-Joining Repair*
  • Deoxyribonucleotides / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1 / metabolism
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1 / physiology*


  • Deoxyribonucleotides
  • CRISPR-Associated Protein 9
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • SAMHD1 protein, human