DNA damage leads to genome instability by interfering with DNA replication. Cells possess several damage bypass pathways that mitigate the effects of DNA damage during replication. These pathways include translesion synthesis and template switching. These pathways are regulated largely through post-translational modifications of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), an essential replication accessory factor. Mono-ubiquitylation of PCNA promotes translesion synthesis, and K63-linked poly-ubiquitylation promotes template switching. This article will discuss the mechanisms of how these post-translational modifications of PCNA control these bypass pathways from a structural and biochemical perspective. We will focus on the structure and function of the E3 ubiquitin ligases Rad18 and Rad5 that facilitate the mono-ubiquitylation and poly-ubiquitylation of PCNA, respectively. We conclude by reviewing alternative ideas about how these post-translational modifications of PCNA regulate the assembly of the multi-protein complexes that promote damage bypass pathways.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited