The Fanconi anemia/BRCA (FA/BRCA) pathway is a DNA repair pathway that is required for excision of DNA interstrand cross-links. The 17 known FA proteins, along with several FA-associated proteins (FAAPs), cooperate in this pathway to detect, unhook, and excise DNA cross-links and to subsequently repair the double-strand breaks generated in the process. In the current study, we identified a patient with FA with a point mutation in FANCA, which encodes a mutant FANCA protein (FANCAI939S). FANCAI939S failed to bind to the FAAP20 subunit of the FA core complex, leading to decreased stability. Loss of FAAP20 binding exposed a SUMOylation site on FANCA at amino acid residue K921, resulting in E2 SUMO-conjugating enzyme UBC9-mediated SUMOylation, RING finger protein 4–mediated (RNF4-mediated) polyubiquitination, and proteasome-mediated degradation of FANCA. Mutation of the SUMOylation site of FANCA rescued the expression of the mutant protein. Wild-type FANCA was also subject to SUMOylation, RNF4-mediated polyubiquitination, and degradation, suggesting that regulated release of FAAP20 from FANCA is a critical step in the normal FA pathway. Consistent with this model, cells lacking RNF4 exhibited interstrand cross-linker hypersensitivity, and the gene encoding RNF4 was epistatic with the other genes encoding members of the FA/BRCA pathway. Together, the results from our study underscore the importance of analyzing unique patient-derived mutations for dissecting complex DNA repair processes.


Jenny Xie, Hyungjin Kim, Lisa A. Moreau, Shannon Puhalla, Judy Garber, Muthana Al Abo, Shunichi Takeda, Alan D. D’Andrea


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