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MDC1 directly binds phosphorylated histone H2AX to regulate cellular responses to DNA double-strand breaks.

Stucki M., Clapperton J.A., Mohammad D., Yaffe M.B., Smerdon S.J., Jackson S.P.

Histone variant H2AX phosphorylation in response to DNA damage is the major signal for recruitment of DNA-damage-response proteins to regions of damaged chromatin. Loss of H2AX causes radiosensitivity, genome instability, and DNA double-strand-break repair defects, yet the mechanisms underlying these phenotypes remain obscure. Here, we demonstrate that mammalian MDC1/NFBD1 directly binds to phospho-H2AX (gammaH2AX) by specifically interacting with the phosphoepitope at the gammaH2AX carboxyl terminus. Moreover, through a combination of biochemical, cell-biological, and X-ray crystallographic approaches, we reveal the molecular details of the MDC1/NFBD1-gammaH2AX complex. These data provide compelling evidence that the MDC1/NFBD1 BRCT repeat domain is the major mediator of gammaH2AX recognition following DNA damage. We further show that MDC1/NFBD1-gammaH2AX complex formation regulates H2AX phosphorylation and is required for normal radioresistance and efficient accumulation of DNA-damage-response proteins on damaged chromatin. Thus, binding of MDC1/NFBD1 to gammaH2AX plays a central role in the mammalian response to DNA damage.

Cell 123:1213-1226(2005) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]