A phosphorylation–deubiquitination cascade regulates the BRCA2–RAD51 axis in homologous recombination

Kuntian Luo, Lei Li, Yunhui Li, Chenming Wu, Yujiao Yin, Yuping Chen, Min Deng, Somaira Nowsheen, Jian Yuan, Zhenkun Lou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Homologous recombination (HR) is one of the majorDNAdouble-strand break (DSB) repair pathways in mammalian cells. Defects in HR trigger genomic instability and result in cancer predisposition. The defining step of HR is homologous strand exchange directed by the protein RAD51, which is recruited to DSBs by BRCA2. However, the regulation of the BRCA2–RAD51 axis remains unclear. Here we report that ubiquitination of RAD51 hinders RAD51–BRCA2 interaction, while deubiquitination of RAD51 facilitates RAD51–BRCA2 binding and RAD51 recruitment and thus is critical for proper HR. Mechanistically, in response to DNA damage, the deubiquitinase UCHL3 is phosphorylated and activated by ATM. UCHL3, in turn, deubiquitinates RAD51 and promotes the binding between RAD51 and BRCA2. Overexpression of UCHL3 renders breast cancer cells resistant to radiation and chemotherapy, while depletion of UCHL3 sensitizes cells to these treatments, suggesting a determinant role of UCHL3 in cancer therapy. Overall, we identify UCHL3 as a novel regulator of DNA repair and reveal a model in which a phosphorylation–deubiquitination cascade dynamically regulates the BRCA2–RAD51 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2581-2595
Number of pages15
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • BRCA2
  • DNA damage response
  • Deubiquitination
  • Homologous recombination
  • Rad51
  • UCHL3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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