Mutation research

Cadmium delays non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) repair via inhibition of DNA-PKcs phosphorylation and downregulation of XRCC4 and Ligase IV.

PMID 26201248


Although studies have shown that cadmium (Cd) interfered with DNA damage repair (DDR), whether Cd could affect non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) repair remains elusive. To further understand the effect of Cd on DDR, we used X-ray irradiation of Hela cells as an in vitro model system, along with γH2AX and 53BP1 as markers for DNA damage. Results showed that X-ray significantly increased γH2AX and 53BP1 foci in Hela cells (p < 0.01), all of which are characteristic of accrued DNA damage. The number of foci declined rapidly over time (1-8h postirradiation), indicating an initiation of NHEJ process. However, the disappearance of γH2AX and 53BP1 foci was remarkably slowed by Cd pretreatment (p < 0.01), suggesting that Cd reduced the efficiency of NHEJ. To further elucidate the mechanisms of Cd toxicity, several markers of NHEJ pathway including Ku70, DNA-PKcs, XRCC4 and Ligase IV were examined. Our data showed that Cd altered the phosphorylation of DNA-PKcs, and reduced the expression of both XRCC4 and Ligase IV in irradiated cells. These observations are indicative of the impairment of NHEJ-dependent DNA repair pathways. In addition, zinc (Zn) mitigated the effects of Cd on NHEJ, suggesting that the Cd-induced NHEJ alteration may partly result from the displacement of Zn or from an interference with the normal function of Zn-containing proteins by Cd. Our findings provide a new insight into the toxicity of Cd on NHEJ repair and its underlying mechanisms in human cells.