XRCC1 functions in the repair of single-strand DNA breaks in mammalian cells and forms a repair complex with β-Pol, ligase III and PARP. Here we describe the NMR solution structure of the XRCC1 N-terminal domain (XRCC1 NTD). The structural core is a β-sandwich with β-strands connected by loops, three helices and two short two-stranded β-sheets at each connection side. We show, for the first time, that the XRCC1 NTD specifically binds single-strand break DNA (gapped and nicked). We also show that the XRCC1 NTD binds a gapped DNA–β-Pol complex. The DNA binding and β-Pol binding surfaces were mapped by NMR and found to be well suited for interaction with single-strand gap DNA containing a 90° bend, and for simultaneously making contacts with the palm-thumb of β-Pol in a ternary complex. The findings suggest a mechanism for preferential binding of the XRCC1 NTD to flexible single-strand break DNA.
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We thank A. Robertson and S. Wilson for providing the overexpression clone of the palm-thumb domain of β-Pol. We thank M. Santos for synthesis of the oligonucleotides used for NMR studies. This research was supported by an NIH grant to G.P.M. and by NIH postdoctoral fellowship grants to M.W.M. and to B.P.
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