Detection and Visualization of DNA Damage-induced Protein Complexes in Suspension Cell Cultures Using the Proximity Ligation Assay

Mahnoush Bahjat, Timon A. Bloedjes, Amélie van der Veen, Guus de Wilde, Chiel Maas, Jeroen E. J. Guikema

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The DNA damage response orchestrates the repair of DNA lesions that occur spontaneously, are caused by genotoxic stress, or appear in the context of programmed DNA breaks in lymphocytes. The Ataxia-Telangiectasia Mutated kinase (ATM), ATM-and Rad3-Related kinase (ATR) and the catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent Protein Kinase (DNA-PKcs) are among the first that are activated upon induction of DNA damage, and are central regulators of a network that controls DNA repair, apoptosis and cell survival. As part of a tumor-suppressive pathway, ATM and ATR activate p53 through phosphorylation, thereby regulating the transcriptional activity of p53. DNA damage also results in the formation of so-called ionizing radiation-induced foci (IRIF) that represent complexes of DNA damage sensor and repair proteins that accumulate at the sites of DNA damage, which are visualized by fluorescence microscopy. Co-localization of proteins in IRIFs, however, does not necessarily imply direct protein-protein interactions, as the resolution of fluorescence microscopy is limited. In situ Proximity Ligation Assay (PLA) is a novel technique that allows the direct visualization of protein-protein interactions in cells and tissues with unprecedented specificity and sensitivity. This technique is based on the spatial proximity of specific antibodies binding to the proteins of interest. When the interrogated proteins are within similar to 40 nm an amplification reaction is triggered by oligonucleotides that are conjugated to the antibodies, and the amplification product is visualized by fluorescent labeling, yielding a signal that corresponds to the subcellular location of the interacting proteins. Using the established functional interaction between ATM and p53 as an example, it is demonstrated here how PLA can be used in suspension cell cultures to study the direct interactions between proteins that are integral parts of the DNA damage response
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e55703
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number124
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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