The ATP-bound conformation of the Mre11-Rad50 complex is essential for Tel1/ATM activation.Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 04 23; 47(7):3550-3567.NA
Activation of the checkpoint protein Tel1 requires the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 (MRX) complex, which recruits Tel1 at DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) through direct interaction between Tel1 and Xrs2. However, in vitro Tel1 activation by MRX requires ATP binding to Rad50, suggesting a role also for the MR subcomplex in Tel1 activation. Here we describe two separation-of-functions alleles, mre11-S499P and rad50-A78T, which we show to specifically affect Tel1 activation without impairing MRX functions in DSB repair. Both Mre11-S499P and Rad50-A78T reduce Tel1-MRX interaction leading to poor Tel1 association at DSBs and consequent loss of Tel1 activation. The Mre11-S499P variant reduces Mre11-Rad50 interaction, suggesting an important role for MR complex formation in Tel1 activation. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the wild type MR subcomplex bound to ATP lingers in a tightly 'closed' conformation, while ADP presence leads to the destabilization of Rad50 dimer and of Mre11-Rad50 association, both events being required for MR conformational transition to an open state. By contrast, MRA78T undertakes complex opening even if Rad50 is bound to ATP, indicating that defective Tel1 activation caused by MRA78T results from destabilization of the ATP-bound conformational state.