Homologous recombinational repair preserves chromosomal integrity by removing double-strand breaks, cross-links, and other DNA damage. In eukaryotic cells, the Rad51 paralogs (XRCC2/3, Rad51B/C/D) are involved in this process, although their exact functions are largely undetermined. All five paralogs contain ATPase motifs, and XRCC3 exists in a single complex with Rad51C. To examine the function of this Rad51C-XRCC3 complex, we generated mammalian expression vectors that produce human wild-type XRCC3 or mutant XRCC3 with either a nonconservative mutation (K113A) or a conservative mutation (K113R) in the GKT Walker A box of the ATPase motif. The three vectors were independently transfected into Xrcc3-deficient irs1SF Chinese hamster ovary cells. Wild-type XRCC3 complemented irs1SF cells, albeit to varying degrees, whereas ATPase mutants had no complementing activity, even when the mutant protein was expressed at comparable levels to that in wild-type-complemented clones. Because of dysfunction of the mutants, we propose that ATP binding and hydrolyzing activities of XRCC3 are essential. We tested in vitro complex formation by wild-type and mutant XRCC3 with His6-tagged Rad51C upon co-expression in bacteria, nickel-affinity purification, and Western blotting. Wild-type and K113A mutant XRCC3 formed stable complexes with Rad51C and co-purified with Rad51C, whereas the K113R mutant did not and was predominantly insoluble. The addition of 5 mM ATP but not ADP also abolished complex formation by the wild-type proteins. These results suggest that XRCC3 probably regulates the dissociation and formation of Rad51C-XRCC3 complex through ATP binding and hydrolysis with both processes being essential for the ability of the complex to participate in homologous recombinational repair.
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