description
The nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway is initiated in response to the formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by DNA-damaging agents, such as ionizing radiation. DNA DSBs are recognized by the MRN complex (MRE11A:RAD50:NBN), leading to ATM activation and ATM-dependent recruitment of a number of DNA damage checkpoint and repair proteins to DNA DSB sites (Lee and Paull 2005). The ATM phosphorylated MRN complex, MDC1 and H2AFX-containing nucleosomes (gamma-H2AX) serve as scaffolds for the formation of nuclear foci known as ionizing radiation induced foci (IRIF) (Gatei et al. 2000, Paull et al. 2000, Stewart et al. 2003, Stucki et al. 2005). Ultimately, both BRCA1:BARD1 heterodimers and TP53BP1 (53BP1) are recruited to IRIF (Wang et al. 2007, Pei et al. 2011, Mallette et al. 2012), which is necessary for ATM-mediated CHEK2 activation (Wang et al. 2002, Wilson et al. 2008). In G1 cells, TP53BP1 promotes NHEJ by recruiting RIF1 and PAX1IP, which displaces BRCA1:BARD1 and associated proteins from the DNA DSB site and prevents resection of DNA DSBs needed for homologous recombination repair (HRR) (Escribano-Diaz et al. 2013, Zimmermann et al. 2013, Callen et al. 2013). TP53BP1 also plays an important role in ATM-mediated phosphorylation of DCLRE1C (ARTEMIS) (Riballo et al. 2004, Wang et al. 2014). Ku70:Ku80 heterodimer (also known as the Ku complex or XRCC5:XRCC6) binds DNA DSB ends, competing away the MRN complex and preventing MRN-mediated resection of DNA DSB ends (Walker et al. 2001, Sun et al. 2012). The catalytic subunit of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs, PRKDC) is then recruited to DNA-bound Ku to form the DNA-PK holoenzyme. Two DNA-PK complexes, one at each side of the break, bring DNA DSB ends together, joining them in a synaptic complex (Gottlieb 1993, Yoo and Dynan 2000). DNA-PK complex recruits DCLRE1C (ARTEMIS) to DNA DSB ends (Ma et al. 2002). PRKDC-mediated phosphorylation of DCLRE1C, as well as PRKDC autophosphorylation, enables DCLRE1C to trim 3'- and 5'-overhangs at DNA DSBs, preparing them for ligation (Ma et al. 2002, Ma et al. 2005, Niewolik et al. 2006). The binding of inositol phosphate may additionally stimulate the catalytic activity of PRKDC (Hanakahi et al. 2000). Other factors, such as polynucleotide kinase (PNK), TDP1 or TDP2 may remove unligatable damaged nucleotides from 5'- and 3'-ends of the DSB, converting them to ligatable substrates (Inamdar et al. 2002, Gomez-Herreros et al. 2013). DNA ligase 4 (LIG4) in complex with XRCC4 (XRCC4:LIG4) is recruited to ligatable DNA DSB ends together with the XLF (NHEJ1) homodimer and DNA polymerases mu (POLM) and/or lambda (POLL) (McElhinny et al. 2000, Hsu et al. 2002, Malu et al. 2002, Ahnesorg et al. 2006, Mahajan et al. 2002, Lee et al. 2004, Fan and Wu 2004). After POLL and/or POLM fill 1- or 2-nucleotide long single strand gaps at aligned DNA DSB ends, XRCC4:LIG4 performs the ligation of broken DNA strands, thus completing NHEJ. The presence of NHEJ1 homodimer facilitates the ligation step, especially at mismatched DSB ends (Tsai et al. 2007). Depending on other types of DNA damage present at DNA DSBs, NHEJ can result in error-free products, produce dsDNA with microdeletions and/or mismatched bases, or result in translocations (reviewed by Povrik et al. 2012)

external resources
NCBI:1309110
REACTOME:R-HSA-5693571
PUBMED:10802669
PUBMED:21293379
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PUBMED:10572166

genes
ATM , BARD1 , BRCA1 , XRCC6 , H2AFX , HIST1H2BD , HIST1H2BB , LIG4 , MRE11 , NBN , PRKDC , TP53BP1 , UBE2N , UBE2V2 , SUMO1 , NSD2 , XRCC4 , XRCC5 , HIST3H3 , HIST1H4I , HIST1H2BG , HIST1H2BL , HIST1H2BN , HIST1H2BM , HIST1H2BF , HIST1H2BE , HIST1H2BH , HIST1H2BI , HIST1H2BC , HIST1H2BO , HIST2H2BE , HIST1H4A , HIST1H4D , HIST1H4F , HIST1H4K , HIST1H4J , HIST1H4C , HIST1H4H , HIST1H4B , HIST1H4E , HIST1H4L , HIST2H4A , HERC2 , HIST1H2BJ , RNF8 , BABAM2 , MDC1 , RAD50 , KAT5 , PAXIP1 , POLL , POLM , BABAM1 , TDP2 , PIAS4 , UIMC1 , RIF1 , TDP1 , DCLRE1C , BRCC3 , NHEJ1 , ABRAXAS1 , HIST1H2BK , HIST4H4 , HIST3H2BB , RNF168 , HIST1H2BA , HIST2H4B ,