New publication from the Ulrich lab on the detection of DNA damage bypass by means of avidity-based biosensors

Yakoub G, Choi Y-S, Wong RP, Strauch T, Ann KJ, Cohen RE and Ulrich HD (2023) Avidity-based biosensors for ubiquitylated PCNA reveal choreography of DNA damage bypass. Sci Adv, doi:10.1126/sciadv.adf3041


In eukaryotes, the posttranslational modifier ubiquitin is used to regulate the amounts, interactions, or activities of proteins in diverse pathways and signaling networks. Its effects are mediated by monoubiquitin or polyubiquitin chains of varying geometries. We describe the design, validation, and application of a series of avidity-based probes against the ubiquitylated forms of the DNA replication clamp, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), in budding yeast. Directed against total ubiquitylated PCNA or specifically K63-polyubiquitylated PCNA, the probes are tunable in their activities and can be used either as biosensors or as inhibitors of the PCNA-dependent DNA damage bypass pathway. Used in live cells, the probes revealed the timing of PCNA ubiquitylation during damage bypass and a particular susceptibility of the ribosomal DNA locus to the activation of the pathway. Our approach is applicable to a wide range of ubiquitin-conjugated proteins, thus representing a generalizable strategy for the design of biosensors for specific (poly)ubiquitylated forms of individual substrates.

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