The role of MAR elements in DNA recombination


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
The role of MAR elements in DNA recombination
Kostyrko K.
Mermod N.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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The untargeted integration of foreign DNA into the mammalian cell genome, extensively used in gene therapy and biotechnology, remains an incompletely understood process. It is believed to be based on cellular DNA double strand break (DSB) repair machinery and to involve two major steps: i) the formation of long gene arrays (concatemers), and ii) recombination of the resulting concatemer with the genome. The main DSB repair pathways in eukaryotes include non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ), homologous recombination (HR), and microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ). However, it is still not clear, which of these pathways are responsible for transgene integration.
Here, we show that NHEJ is not the primary pathway used by mammalian cells in the transgene integration process, while the components of the HR pathway seem to be important for genomic integration but not concatemerization. Instead, concatemer formation appears to be mediated by a subset of the MMEJ pathway, termed synthesis-dependent MMEJ (SD-MMEJ). This mechanism also seems to be preferentially used for plasmid integration into the genome, as confirmed by the analysis of plasmid-to-genome junction sequences, which were found to display an SD-MMEJ pattern. Therefore, we propose the existence of two distinct SD-MMEJ subpathways, relying on different subsets of enzymes. One of these mechanisms appears to be responsible for concatemerization, while the other mechanism, partially dependent in HR enzymes, seems to mediate recombination with the genome.
Previous studies performed by our group suggested that matrix attachment regions (MARs), which are epigenetic regulatory DNA elements that participate in the formation of chromatin boundaries and augment transcription, may mediate increased plasmid integration into the genome of CHO cells by stimulating DNA recombination. In the present work, we demonstrate that MAR-mediated plasmid integration results from the enhanced SD-MMEJ pathway. Analysis of transgene integration loci and junction DNA sequences validated the prevalent use of this pathway by the MAR elements to target plasmid DNA into gene-rich areas of the CHO genome. We propose that this finding should in the future help to engineer cells for improved recombinant protein production.
In addition to investigating the process of transgene integration, we designed recombination assays to better characterize the components of the MMEJ and SD-MMEJ pathways. We also used CHO cells expressing cycle-sensitive reporter genes to demonstrate a potential role of HR proteins in the cell cycle regulation.
MAR, DNA repair, transgene, integration, MMEJ, SD-MMEJ
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14/09/2015 12:04
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17/01/2020 7:26
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