BLM SUMOylation regulates ssDNA accumulation at stalled replication forks

Karen J. Ouyang, Mary K. Yagle, Michael J. Matunis, Nathan A. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Polymerase stalling results in uncoupling of DNA polymerase and the replicative helicase, which generates single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). After stalling, RAD51 accumulates at stalled replication forks to stabilize the fork and to repair by homologous recombination (HR) double-strand breaks (DSBs) that accumulate there. We showed recently that SUMO modification of the BLM helicase is required in order for RAD51 to accumulate at stalled forks. In order to investigate how BLM SUMOylation controls RAD51 accumulation, we characterized the function of HR proteins and ssDNA-binding protein RPA in cells that stably expressed either normal BLM (BLM+) or SUMO-mutant BLM (SM-BLM). In HU-treated SM-BLM cells, mediators BRCA2 and RAD52, which normally substitute RAD51 for RPA on ssDNA, failed to accumulate normally at stalled forks; instead, excess RPA accumulated. SM-BLM cells also exhibited higher levels of HU-induced chromatin-bound RPA than BLM+ cells did. The excess RPA did not result from excessive intrinsic BLM helicase activity, because in vitro SUMOylated BLM unwound similar amounts of replication-fork substrate as unSUMOylated BLM. Nor did BLM SUMOylation inhibit binding of RPA to BLM in vitro; however, in immunoprecipitation experiments, more BLM-RPA complex formed in HU-treated SM-BLM cells, indicating that BLM SUMOylation controls the amount of BLM-RPA complex normally formed at stalled forks. Together, these results showed that BLM SUMOylation regulates the amount of ssDNA that accumulates during polymerase stalling. We conclude that BLM SUMOylation functions as a licensing mechanism that permits and regulates HR at damaged replication forks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberArticle 167
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - 2013


  • Bloom's syndrome
  • DNA repair foci
  • Homologous recombination
  • RecQ DNA helicases
  • Replication fork stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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