CSB cooperates with SMARCAL1 to maintain telomere stability in ALT cells Academic Article uri icon

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  • Elevated replication stress is evident at telomeres of about 10–15% of cancer cells, which maintain their telomeres via a homologous recombination (HR)-based mechanism, referred to as alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). How ALT cells resolve replication stress to support their growth remains incompletely characterized. Here we report that CSB promotes recruitment of HR repair proteins (MRN, BRCA1, BLM, RPA32) and POLD3 to ALT telomeres, a process that requires CSB's ATPase activity and is controlled by ATM- and CDK2-dependent phosphorylation. Loss of CSB stimulates telomeric recruitment of MUS81 and SLX4, components of the structure-specific MUS81-EME1-SLX1-SLX4 (MUS-SLX) endonuclease complex, suggesting that CSB restricts MUS-SLX-mediated processing of stalled forks at ALT telomeres. Loss of CSB coupled with depletion of SMARCAL1, a chromatin remodeler implicated in catalyzing regression of stalled forks, synergistically promotes not only telomeric recruitment of MUS81 but also the formation of fragile telomeres, the latter of which is reported to arise from fork stalling. These results altogether suggest that CSB-mediated HR repair and SMARCAL1-mediated fork regression cooperate to prevent stalled forks from being processed into fragile telomeres in ALT cells.


  • Feng, Emily
  • Batenburg, Nicole L
  • Walker, John R
  • Ho, Angus
  • Mitchell, Taylor RH
  • Qin, Jian
  • Zhu, Xu-dong

publication date

  • February 17, 2020