Hu, Z., Holzschuh, J., Driever, W. (2015) Loss of DDB1 Leads to Transcriptional p53 Pathway Activation in Proliferating Cells, Cell Cycle Deregulation, and Apoptosis in Zebrafish Embryos. PLoS One. 10:e0134299.
DNA damage-binding protein 1 (DDB1) is a large subunit of the heterodimeric DDB complex that recognizes DNA lesions and initiates the nucleotide excision repair process. DDB1 is also a component of the CUL4 E3 ligase complex involved in a broad spectrum of cellular processes by targeted ubiquitination of key regulators. Functions of DDB1 in development have been addressed in several model organisms, however, are not fully understood so far. Here we report an ENU induced mutant ddb1 allele (ddb1m863) identified in zebrafish (Danio rerio), and analyze its effects on development. Zebrafish ddb1 is expressed broadly, both maternally and zygotically, with enhanced expression in proliferation zones. The (ddb1m863 mutant allele affects the splice acceptor site of exon 20, causing a splicing defect that results in truncation of the 1140 amino acid protein after residue 800, lacking part of the β-propeller domain BPC and the C-terminal helical domain CTD. ddb1m863 zygotic mutant embryos have a pleiotropic phenotype, including smaller and abnormally shaped brain, head skeleton, eyes, jaw, and branchial arches, as well as reduced dopaminergic neuron groups. However, early forming tissues develop normally in zygotic ddb1m863 mutant embryos, which may be due to maternal rescue. In ddb1m863 mutant embryos, pcna-expressing proliferating cell populations were reduced, concurrent with increased apoptosis. We also observed a concomitant strong up-regulation of transcripts of the tumor suppressor p53 (tp53) and the cell cycle inhibitor cdkn1a (p21a/bCIP1/WAF1) in proliferating tissues. In addition, transcription of cyclin genes ccna2 and ccnd1 was deregulated in ddb1m863 mutants. Reduction of p53 activity by anti-sense morpholinos alleviated the apoptotic phenotype in ddb1m863 mutants. These results imply that Ddb1 may be involved in maintaining proper cell cycle progression and viability of dividing cells during development through transcriptional mechanisms regulating genes involved in cell cycle control and cell survival.