The SMX DNA repair tri-nuclease

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The efficient removal of replication and recombination intermediates is essential for the maintenance of genome stability. Resolution of these potentially toxic structures requires the MUS81-EME1 endonuclease, which is activated at prometaphase by formation of the SMX tri-nuclease containing three DNA repair structure-selective endonucleases: SLX1-SLX4, MUS81-EME1, and XPF-ERCC1. Here we show that SMX tri-nuclease is more active than the three individual nucleases, efficiently cleaving replication forks and recombination intermediates. Within SMX, SLX4 co-ordinates the SLX1 and MUS81-EME1 nucleases for Holliday junction resolution, in a reaction stimulated by XPF-ERCC1. SMX formation activates MUS81-EME1 for replication fork and flap structure cleavage by relaxing substrate specificity. Activation involves MUS81's conserved N-terminal HhH domain, which mediates incision site selection and SLX4 binding. Cell cycle-dependent formation and activation of this tri-nuclease complex provides a unique mechanism by which cells ensure chromosome segregation and preserve genome integrity.

Journal details

Journal Molecular Cell
Volume 65
Issue number 5
Pages 848-860.e11
Available online
Publication date