Puumalainen MR, Rüthemann P, Min JH, Naegeli H
Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 73 (3) 547-566 [2016-02-00; online 2015-10-31]
The cellular defense system known as global-genome nucleotide excision repair (GG-NER) safeguards genome stability by eliminating a plethora of structurally unrelated DNA adducts inflicted by chemical carcinogens, ultraviolet (UV) radiation or endogenous metabolic by-products. Xeroderma pigmentosum group C (XPC) protein provides the promiscuous damage sensor that initiates this versatile NER reaction through the sequential recruitment of DNA helicases and endonucleases, which in turn recognize and excise insulting base adducts. As a DNA damage sensor, XPC protein is very unique in that it (a) displays an extremely wide substrate range, (b) localizes DNA lesions by an entirely indirect readout strategy, (c) recruits not only NER factors but also multiple repair players, (d) interacts avidly with undamaged DNA, (e) also interrogates nucleosome-wrapped DNA irrespective of chromatin compaction and (f) additionally functions beyond repair as a co-activator of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription. Many recent reports highlighted the complexity of a post-translational circuit that uses polypeptide modifiers to regulate the spatiotemporal activity of this multiuse sensor during the UV damage response in human skin. A newly emerging concept is that stringent regulation of the diverse XPC functions is needed to prioritize DNA repair while avoiding the futile processing of undamaged genes or silent genomic sequences.