Julie Tubbs from John Tainer's group at Scripps published a totally sweet paper in the June 11, 2009 issue of Nature demonstrating that the ATL protein uses nucleotide flipping to link alkylated base damage to the nucleotide excision repair pathway. This publication was in part made possible by the SIBYLS beamline.
Alkyltransferase-like proteins (ATLs) share functional motifs with the cancer chemotherapy target O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT) and paradoxically protect cells from the biological effects of DNA alkylation damage, despite lacking the reactive cysteine and alkyltransferase activity of AGT. Here we determine Schizosaccharomyces pombe ATL structures without and with damaged DNA containing the endogenous lesion O(6)-methylguanine or cigarette-smoke-derived O(6)-4-(3-pyridyl)-4-oxobutylguanine. These results reveal non-enzymatic DNA nucleotide flipping plus increased DNA distortion and binding pocket size compared to AGT. Our analysis of lesion-binding site conservation identifies new ATLs in sea anemone and ancestral archaea, indicating that ATL interactions are ancestral to present-day repair pathways in all domains of life. Genetic connections to mammalian XPG (also known as ERCC5) and ERCC1 in S. pombe homologues Rad13 and Swi10 and biochemical interactions with Escherichia coli UvrA and UvrC combined with structural results reveal that ATLs sculpt alkylated DNA to create a genetic and structural intersection of base damage processing with nucleotide excision repair.
Tubbs JL, Latypov V, Kanugula S, Butt A, Melikishvili M, Kraehenbuehl R, Fleck O, Marriott A, Watson AJ, Verbeek B, McGown G, Thorncroft M, Santibanez-Koref MF, Millington C, Arvai AS, Kroeger MD, Peterson LA, Williams DM, Fried MG, Margison GP, Pegg AE, Tainer JA. "Flipping of alkylated DNA damage bridges base and nucleotide excision repair." Nature. 2009 Jun 11;459(7248):808-13.