Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetic disease of bone marrow failure, cancer susceptibility, and sensitivity to DNA crosslinking agents. FANCD2, the central protein of the FA pathway, is monoubiquitinated upon DNA damage, such as crosslinkers and replication blockers such as hydroxyurea (HU). Even though FA cells demonstrate unequivocal sensitivity to crosslinkers, such as mitomycin C (MMC), we find that they are largely resistant to HU, except for cells absent for expression of FANCD2. FANCD2, RAD51 and RAD18 form a complex, which is enhanced upon HU exposure. Surprisingly, although FANCD2 is required for this enhanced interaction, its monoubiquitination is not. Similarly, non-ubiquitinated FANCD2 can still support proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) monoubiquitination. RAD51, but not BRCA2, is also required for PCNA monoubiquitination in response to HU, suggesting that this function is independent of homologous recombination (HR). We further show that translesion (TLS) polymerase PolH chromatin localization is decreased in FANCD2 deficient cells, FANCD2 siRNA knockdown cells and RAD51 siRNA knockdown cells, and PolH knockdown results in HU sensitivity only. Our data suggest that FANCD2 and RAD51 have an important role in PCNA monoubiquitination and TLS in a FANCD2 monoubiquitination and HR-independent manner in response to HU. This effect is not observed with MMC treatment, suggesting a non-canonical function for the FA pathway in response to different types of DNA damage.
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