USP1-dependent nucleolytic expansion of PRIMPOL-generated nascent DNA strand discontinuities during replication stress

Alexandra Nusawardhana, Lindsey M. Pale, Claudia M. Nicolae, George Lucian Moldovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


DNA replication stress-induced fork arrest represents a significant threat to genomic integrity. One major mechanism of replication restart involves repriming downstream of the arrested fork by PRIMPOL, leaving behind a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) gap. Accumulation of nascent strand ssDNA gaps has emerged as a possible determinant of the cellular hypersensitivity to genotoxic agents in certain genetic backgrounds such as BRCA deficiency, but how gaps are converted into cytotoxic structures is still unclear. Here, we investigate the processing of PRIMPOL-dependent ssDNA gaps upon replication stress induced by hydroxyurea and cisplatin. We show that gaps generated in PRIMPOL-overexpressing cells are expanded in the 3`-5` direction by the MRE11 exonuclease, and in the 5`-3` direction by the EXO1 exonuclease. This bidirectional exonucleolytic gap expansion ultimately promotes their conversion into DSBs. We moreover identify the de-ubiquitinating enzyme USP1 as a critical regulator of PRIMPOL-generated ssDNA gaps. USP1 promotes gap accumulation during S-phase, and their expansion by the MRE11 and EXO1 nucleases. This activity of USP1 is linked to its role in de-ubiquitinating PCNA, suggesting that PCNA ubiquitination prevents gap accumulation during replication. Finally, we show that USP1 depletion suppresses DSB formation in PRIMPOL-overexpressing cells, highlighting an unexpected role for USP1 in promoting genomic instability under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2340-2354
Number of pages15
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 21 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics

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