The Ku autoantigen plays an integral role in mammalian DNA double-strand break repair as the DNA binding component of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) complex. Here, we demonstrate that a second gene, KARP-1 (Ku86 Autoantigen Related Protein-1), is expressed from the Ku86 locus. The KARP-1 gene utilizes an upstream promoter and additional exons which results in an extra 9 kDa of protein appended onto the normal Ku86 polypeptide. The KARP-1-specific domain encodes interdigitating hexa- and penta-heptad repeats of leucine residues flanked by a very basic region. Intriguingly, the catalytic subunit of DNA-PK also contains a hexa-heptad repeat of leucines. Consistent with this observation, we observed that human cell lines stably expressing dominant-negative constructs of KARP-1 resulted in diminished DNA-PK activity and X-ray hypersensitivity and that a KARP-1 antibody significantly neutralized DNA-PK activity in vitro. Finally, we present data which suggests that KARP-1 may be primate-specific. These observations have important repercussions for mammalian DNA double-strand break repair.
- DNA repair
- Leucine zipper