Fanconi anemia (FA) is a cancer predisposition syndrome characterized by cellular hypersensitivity to DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). Within the FA pathway, an upstream core complex monoubiquitinates and recruits the FANCD2 protein to ICLs on chromatin. Ensuing DNA repair involves the Fanconi-associated nuclease 1 (FAN1), which interacts selectively with monoubiquitinated FANCD2 (FANCD2Ub) at ICLs. Importantly, FANCD2 has additional independent functions: it binds chromatin and coordinates the restart of aphidicolin (APH)-stalled replication forks in concert with the BLM helicase, while protecting forks from nucleolytic degradation by MRE11. We identified FAN1 as a new crucial replication fork recovery factor. FAN1 joins the BLM-FANCD2 complex following APH-mediated fork stalling in a manner dependent on MRE11 and FANCD2, followed by FAN1 nuclease-mediated fork restart. Surprisingly, APH-induced activation and chromatin recruitment of FAN1 occur independently of the FA core complex or the FAN1 UBZ domain, indicating that the FANCD2Ub isoform is dispensable for functional FANCD2-FAN1 cross talk during stalled fork recovery. In the absence of FANCD2, MRE11 exonuclease-promoted access of FAN1 to stalled forks results in severe FAN1-mediated nucleolytic degradation of nascent DNA strands. Thus, FAN1 nuclease activity at stalled replication forks requires tight regulation: too little inhibits fork restart, whereas too much causes fork degradation.
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© 2014, American Society for Microbiology.