USP48 restrains resection by site-specific cleavage of the BRCA1 ubiquitin mark from H2A

Michael Uckelmann, Ruth M Densham, Roy Baas, Herrie H K Winterwerp, Alexander Fish, Titia K Sixma, Joanna R Morris

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29 Citations (Scopus)
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BRCA1-BARD1-catalyzed ubiquitination of histone H2A is an important regulator of the DNA damage response, priming chromatin for repair by homologous recombination. However, no specific deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) are known to antagonize this function. Here we identify ubiquitin specific protease-48 (USP48) as a H2A DUB, specific for the C-terminal BRCA1 ubiquitination site. Detailed biochemical analysis shows that an auxiliary ubiquitin, an additional ubiquitin that itself does not get cleaved, modulates USP48 activity, which has possible implications for its regulation in vivo. In cells we reveal that USP48 antagonizes BRCA1 E3 ligase function and in BRCA1-proficient cells loss of USP48 results in positioning 53BP1 further from the break site and in extended resection lengths. USP48 repression confers a survival benefit to cells treated with camptothecin and its activity acts to restrain gene conversion and mutagenic single-strand annealing. We propose that USP48 promotes genome stability by antagonizing BRCA1 E3 ligase function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229
Number of pages16
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • Homologous recombination


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