Maintenance of a genome requires DNA repair integrated with chromatin remodeling. We have analyzed six transcriptome data sets and one data set on translational regulation of known DNA repair and remodeling genes in synchronized human cells. These data are available through our new database: . Genes that have similar transcription profiles in at least two of our data sets generally agree well with known protein profiles. In brief, long patch base excision repair (BER) is enriched for S phase genes, whereas short patch BER uses genes essentially equally expressed in all cell cycle phases. Furthermore, most genes related to DNA mismatch repair, Fanconi anemia and homologous recombination have their highest expression in the S phase. In contrast, genes specific for direct repair, nucleotide excision repair, as well as non-homologous end joining do not show cell cycle-related expression. Cell cycle regulated chromatin remodeling genes were most frequently confined to G1/S and S. These include e.g. genes for chromatin assembly factor 1 (CAF-1) major subunits CHAF1A and CHAF1B; the putative helicases HELLS and ATAD2 that both co-activate E2F transcription factors central in G1/S-transition and recruit DNA repair and chromatin-modifying proteins and DNA double strand break repair proteins; and RAD54L and RAD54B involved in double strand break repair. TOP2A was consistently most highly expressed in G2, but also expressed in late S phase, supporting a role in regulating entry into mitosis. Translational regulation complements transcriptional regulation and appears to be a relatively common cell cycle regulatory mechanism for DNA repair genes. Our results identify cell cycle phases in which different pathways have highest activity, and demonstrate that periodically expressed genes in a pathway are frequently co-expressed. Furthermore, the data suggest that S phase expression and over-expression of some multifunctional chromatin remodeling proteins may set up feedback loops driving cancer cell proliferation.
Replicative DNA polymerases are blocked at DNA lesions. Synthesis past DNA damage requires the replacement of the replicative polymerase by one of a group of specialised translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases, most of which belong to the Y-family. Each of these has different substrate specificities for different types of damage. In eukaryotes mono-ubiquitination of PCNA plays a crucial role in the switch from replicative to TLS polymerases at stalled forks. All the Y-family polymerases have ubiquitin binding sites that increase their binding affinity for ubiquitinated PCNA at the sites of stalled forks. (C) 2007 Published by Elsevier B.V.
The two major pathways for repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). HR leads to accurate repair, while NHEJ is intrinsically mutagenic. To understand human somatic mutation it is essential to know the relationship between these pathways in human cells. Here we provide a comparison of the kinetics and relative contributions of HR and NHEJ in normal human cells. We used chromosomally integrated fluorescent reporter substrates for real-time monitoring of the NHEJ and HR. By examining multiple integrated clones we show that the efficiency of NHEJ and HR is strongly influenced by chromosomal location. Furthermore, we show that NHEJ of compatible ends (NHEJ-C) and NHEJ of incompatible ends (NHEJ-I) are fast processes, which can be completed in approximately 30 min, while HR is much slower and takes 7 h or longer to complete. In actively cycling cells NHEJ-C is twice as efficient as NHEJ-I, and NHEJ-I is three times more efficient than HR. Our results suggest that NHEJ is a faster and more efficient DSB repair pathway than HR.
This review focuses on eukaryotic DNA polymerase zeta (Pol zeta), the enzyme responsible for the bulk of mutagenesis in eukaryotic cells in response to DNA damage. Pol zeta is also responsible for a large portion of mutagenesis during normal cell growth, in response to spontaneous damage or to certain DNA structures and other blocks that stall DNA replication forks. Novel insights in mutagenesis have been derived from recent advances in the elucidation of the subunit structure of Pol zeta. The lagging strand DNA polymerase delta shares the small Pol31 and Pol32 subunits with the Rev3-Rev7 core assembly giving a four subunit Pol zeta complex that is the active form in mutagenesis. Furthermore, Pol zeta forms essential interactions with the mutasome assembly factor Rev1 and with proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). These interactions are modulated by posttranslational modifications such as ubiquitination and phosphorylation that enhance translesion synthesis (TLS) and mutagenesis. (C) 2015 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is a post-translational modification of proteins involved in regulation of many cellular pathways. Poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) consists of chains of repeating ADP-ribose nucleotide units and is synthesized by the family of enzymes called poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). This modification can be removed by the hydrolytic action of poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) and ADP-ribosylhydrolase 3 (ARH3). Hydrolytic activity of macrodomain proteins (MacroD1, MacroD2 and TARG1) is responsible for the removal of terminal ADP-ribose unit and for complete reversion of protein ADP-ribosylation. Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation is widely utilized in eukaryotes and PARPs are present in representatives from all six major eukaryotic supergroups, with only a small number of eukaryotic species that do not possess PARP genes. The last common ancestor of all eukaryotes possessed at least five types of PARP proteins that include both mono and poly(ADP-ribosyl) transferases. Distribution of PARGs strictly follows the distribution of PARP proteins in eukaryotic species. At least one of the macrodomain proteins that hydrolyse terminal ADP-ribose is also always present. Therefore, we can presume that the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes possessed a fully functional and reversible PAR metabolism and that PAR signalling provided the conditions essential for survival of the ancestral eukaryote in its ancient environment. PARP proteins are far less prevalent in bacteria and were probably gained through horizontal gene transfer. Only eleven bacterial species possess all proteins essential for a functional PAR metabolism, although it is not known whether PAR metabolism is truly functional in bacteria. Several dsDNA viruses also possess PARP homologues, while no PARP proteins have been identified in any archaeal genome. Our analysis of the distribution of enzymes involved in PAR metabolism provides insight into the evolution of these important signalling systems, as well as providing the basis for selection of the appropriate genetic model organisms to study the physiology of the specific human PARP proteins.
The resection of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to generate ssDNA tails is a pivotal event in the cellular response to these breaks. In the two-step model of resection, primarily elucidated in yeast, initial resection by Mre11-CtIP is followed by extensive resection by two distinct pathways involving Exo1 or BLM/WRN-Dna2. However, resection pathways and their exact contributions in humans are not as clearly worked out as in yeast. Here, we examined the contribution of Exo1 to DNA end resection in humans in response to ionizing radiation (IR) and its relationship with other resection pathways (Mre11-CtIP or BLM/WRN). We find that Exo1 plays a predominant role in resection in human cells along with an alternate pathway dependent on WRN. While Mre11 and CtIP stimulate resection in human cells, they are not absolutely required for this process and Exo1 can function in resection even in the absence of Mre11-CtIP. Interestingly, the recruitment of Exo1 to DNA breaks appears to be inhibited by the NHEJ protein Ku80, and the higher level of resection that occurs upon siRNA-mediated depletion of Ku80 is dependent on Exo1. In addition, Exo1 may be regulated by 53BP1 and Brca1, and the restoration of resection in BRCA1-deficient cells upon depletion of 53BP1 is dependent on Exo1. Finally, we find that Exo1-mediated resection facilitates a transition from ATM- to ATR-mediated cell cycle checkpoint signaling. Our results identify Exo1 as a key mediator of DNA end resection and DSB repair and damage signaling decisions in human cells.
► The ribonucleotide incorporation properties of yeast Pol δ are conserved in humans. ► Pol δ does not efficiently proofread newly inserted ribonucleotides. ► Consecutive ribonucleotides in a DNA template impede synthesis by human Pol δ. ► A variant of human Pol δ incorporates more ribonucleotides than does wild type Pol δ. In both budding and fission yeast, a large number of ribonucleotides are incorporated into DNA during replication by the major replicative polymerases (Pols α, δ and ɛ). They are subsequently removed by RNase H2-dependent repair, which if defective leads to replication stress and genome instability. To extend these studies to humans, where an RNase H2 defect results in an autoimmune disease, here we compare the ability of human and yeast Pol δ to incorporate, proofread, and bypass ribonucleotides during DNA synthesis. In reactions containing nucleotide concentrations estimated to be present in mammalian cells, human Pol δ stably incorporates one rNTP for approximately 2000 dNTPs, a ratio similar to that for yeast Pol δ. This result predicts that human Pol δ may introduce more than a million ribonucleotides into the nuclear genome per replication cycle, an amount recently reported to be present in the genome of RNase H2-defective mouse cells. Consistent with such abundant stable incorporation, we show that the 3′-exonuclease activity of yeast and human Pol δ largely fails to edit ribonucleotides during polymerization. We also show that, like yeast Pol δ, human Pol δ pauses as it bypasses ribonucleotides in DNA templates, with four consecutive ribonucleotides in a DNA template being more problematic than single ribonucleotides. In conjunction with recent studies in yeast and mice, this ribonucleotide incorporation may be relevant to impaired development and disease when RNase H2 is defective in mammals. As one tool to investigate ribonucleotide incorporation by Pol δ in human cells, we show that human Pol δ containing a Leu606Met substitution in the polymerase active site incorporates 7-fold more ribonucleotides into DNA than does wild type Pol δ.
Genotoxins and other factors cause replication stress that activate the DNA damage response (DDR), comprising checkpoint and repair systems. The DDR suppresses cancer by promoting genome stability, and it regulates tumor resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy. Three members of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related kinase (PIKK) family, ATM, ATR, and DNA-PK, are important DDR proteins. A key PIKK target is replication protein A (RPA), which binds single-stranded DNA and functions in DNA replication, DNA repair, and checkpoint signaling. An early response to replication stress is ATR activation, which occurs when RPA accumulates on ssDNA. Activated ATR phosphorylates many targets, including the RPA32 subunit of RPA, leading to Chk1 activation and replication arrest. DNA-PK also phosphorylates RPA32 in response to replication stress, and we demonstrate that cells with DNA-PK defects, or lacking RPA32 Ser4/Ser8 targeted by DNA-PK, confer similar phenotypes, including defective replication checkpoint arrest, hyper-recombination, premature replication fork restart, failure to block late origin firing, and increased mitotic catastrophe. We present evidence that hyper-recombination in these mutants is ATM-dependent, but the other defects are ATM-independent. These results indicate that DNA-PK and ATR signaling through RPA32 plays a critical role in promoting genome stability and cell survival in response to replication stress.
Low- and high-linear energy transfer (LET) ionising radiation are effective cancer therapies, but produce structurally different forms of DNA damage. Isolated DNA damage is repaired efficiently; however, clustered lesions may be more difficult to repair, and are considered as significant biological endpoints. We investigated the formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and clustered lesions in human fibroblasts after exposure to sparsely (low-LET; delivered by photons) and densely (high-LET; delivered by carbon ions) ionising radiation. DNA repair factors (pKu70, 53BP1, γH2AX, and pXRCC1) were detected using immunogold-labelling and electron microscopy, and spatiotemporal DNA damage patterns were analysed within the nuclear ultrastructure at the nanoscale level. By labelling activated Ku-heterodimers (pKu70) the number of DSBs was determined in electron-lucent euchromatin and electron-dense heterochromatin. Directly after low-LET exposure (5 min post-irradiation), single pKu70 dimers, which reflect isolated DSBs, were randomly distributed throughout the entire nucleus with a linear dose correlation up to 30 Gy. Most euchromatic DSBs were sensed and repaired within 40 min, whereas heterochromatic DSBs were processed with slower kinetics. Essentially all DNA lesions induced by low-LET irradiation were efficiently rejoined within 24 h post-irradiation. High-LET irradiation caused localised energy deposition within the particle tracks, and generated highly clustered DNA lesions with multiple DSBs in close proximity. The dimensions of these clustered lesions along the particle trajectories depended on the chromatin packing density, with huge DSB clusters predominantly localised in condensed heterochromatin. High-LET irradiation-induced clearly higher DSB yields than low-LET irradiation, with up to ∼500 DSBs per μm track volume, and large fractions of these heterochromatic DSBs remained unrepaired. Hence, the spacing and quantity of DSBs in clustered lesions influence DNA repair efficiency, and may determine the radiobiological outcome.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) offer a new approach for molecular classification and individual therapy of human cancer due to their regulation of oncogenic pathways. In a previous report, elevated miR-375 was found in recurring gastric cancer, and it was predicted that miR-375 may be a regulator of p53 gene. However, its biological role and mechanism of actions remain unknown. In this study, we characterized the expression level of miR-375 in gastric cancer cell lines – BGC823, MGC803, SGC7901, AGS, N87, MKN45 – using RT-PCR. We found that exogenous expression of miR-375 promoted the growth of AGS cells in both liquid and soft agar media. In agreement with the previous report, overexpression of miR-375 in AGS cells reduced the p53 protein expression level. A luciferase assay demonstrated that miR-375 down-regulated p53 expression through an interaction with the 3′ UTR region of p53. In addition, the expression of miR-375 desensitizes cells to ionizing radiation and etoposide. Flow cytometry analyses showed that miR-375 abrogated the cell cycle arrest and apoptosis after DNA damage. These results demonstrate that miR-375 targets p53 to regulate the response to ionizing radiation and etoposide treatment.
Upon DNA binding the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase family of enzymes (PARPs) add multiple ADP-ribose subunits to themselves and other acceptor proteins. Inhibitors of PARPs have become an exciting and real prospect for monotherapy and as sensitizers to ionising radiation (IR). The action of PARPs are reversed by poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG). Until recently studies of PARG have been limited by the lack of an inhibitor. Here, a first in class, specific, and cell permeable PARG inhibitor, PDD00017273, is shown to radiosensitize. Further, PDD00017273 is compared with the PARP1/2/3 inhibitor olaparib. Both olaparib and PDD00017273 altered the repair of IR-induced DNA damage, resulting in delayed resolution of RAD51 foci compared with control cells. However, only PARG inhibition induced a rapid increase in IR-induced activation of PRKDC (DNA-PK) and perturbed mitotic progression. This suggests that PARG has additional functions in the cell compared with inhibition of PARP1/2/3, likely via reversal of tankyrase activity and/or that inhibiting the removal of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) has a different consequence to inhibiting PAR addition. Overall, our data are consistent with previous genetic findings, reveal new insights into the function of PAR metabolism following IR and demonstrate for the first time the therapeutic potential of PARG inhibitors as radiosensitizing agents.
Poly(ADP-ribosylation) of proteins following DNA damage is well studied and the use of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors as therapeutic agents is an exciting prospect for the treatment of many cancers. Poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) has endo- and exoglycosidase activities which can cleave glycosidic bonds, rapidly reversing the action of PARP enzymes. Like addition of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) by PARP, removal of PAR by PARG is also thought to be required for repair of DNA strand breaks and for continued replication at perturbed forks. Here we use siRNA to show a synthetic lethal relationship between PARG and BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, FAM175A (ABRAXAS) and BARD1. In addition, we demonstrate that MCF7 cells depleted of these proteins are sensitive to Gallotannin and a novel and specific PARG inhibitor PDD00017273. We confirm that PARG inhibition increases endogenous DNA damage, stalls replication forks and increases homologous recombination, and propose that it is the lack of homologous recombination (HR) proteins at PARG inhibitor-induced stalled replication forks that induces cell death. Interestingly not all genes that are synthetically lethal with PARP result in sensitivity to PARG inhibitors, suggesting that although there is overlap, the functions of PARP and PARG may not be completely identical. These data together add further evidence to the possibility that single treatment therapy with PARG inhibitors could be used for treatment of certain HR deficient tumours and provide insight into the relationship between PARP, PARG and the processes of DNA repair.
The most common mutations in cancer are C to T transitions, but their origin has remained elusive. Recently, mutational signatures of APOBEC-family cytosine deaminases were identified in many common cancers, suggesting off-target deamination of cytosine to uracil as a common mutagenic mechanism. Here we present evidence from mass spectrometric quantitation of deoxyuridine in DNA that shows significantly higher genomic uracil content in B-cell lymphoma cell lines compared to non-lymphoma cancer cell lines and normal circulating lymphocytes. The genomic uracil levels were highly correlated with AID mRNA and protein expression, but not with expression of other APOBECs. Accordingly, AID knockdown significantly reduced genomic uracil content. B-cells stimulated to express endogenous AID and undergo class switch recombination displayed a several-fold increase in total genomic uracil, indicating that B cells may undergo widespread cytosine deamination after stimulation. In line with this, we found that clustered mutations ( ) in lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia predominantly carry AID-hotspot mutational signatures. Moreover, we observed an inverse correlation of genomic uracil with uracil excision activity and expression of the uracil-DNA glycosylases UNG and SMUG1. In conclusion, AID-induced mutagenic U:G mismatches in DNA may be a fundamental and common cause of mutations in B-cell malignancies.
Base excision repair is the major pathway for removal of oxidative DNA base damage. This pathway is initiated by DNA glycosylases, which recognize and excise damaged bases from DNA. In this work, we have purified the glycosylase domain (GD) of human DNA glycosylase NEIL3. The substrate specificity has been characterized and we have elucidated the catalytic mechanisms. GD NEIL3 excised the hydantoin lesions spiroiminodihydantoin (Sp) and guanidinohydantoin (Gh) in single-stranded (ss) and double-stranded (ds) DNA efficiently. NEIL3 also removed 5-hydroxy-2′-deoxycytidine (5OHC) and 5-hydroxy-2′-deoxyuridine (5OHU) in ssDNA, but less efficiently than hydantoins. Unlike NEIL1 and NEIL2, which possess a β,δ-elimination activity, NEIL3 mainly incised damaged DNA by β-elimination. Further, the base excision and strand incision activities of NEIL3 exhibited a non-concerted action, indicating that NEIL3 mainly operate as a monofunctional DNA glycosylase. The site-specific NEIL3 mutant V2P, however, showed a concerted action, suggesting that the N-terminal amino group in Val2 is critical for the monofunctional modus. Finally, we demonstrated that residue Lys81 is essential for catalysis.
ERCC1–XPF is a structure-specific endonuclease that is required for the repair of DNA lesions, generated by the widely used platinum-containing cancer chemotherapeutics such as cisplatin, through the Nucleotide Excision Repair and Interstrand Crosslink Repair pathways. Based on mouse xenograft experiments, where ERCC1-deficient melanomas were cured by cisplatin therapy, we proposed that inhibition of ERCC1–XPF could enhance the effectiveness of platinum-based chemotherapy. Here we report the identification and properties of inhibitors against two key targets on ERCC1–XPF. By targeting the ERCC1–XPF interaction domain we proposed that inhibition would disrupt the ERCC1–XPF heterodimer resulting in destabilisation of both proteins. Using screening, we identified an inhibitor that bound to ERCC1–XPF in a biophysical assay, reduced the level of ERCC1–XPF complexes in ovarian cancer cells, inhibited Nucleotide Excision Repair and sensitised melanoma cells to cisplatin. We also utilised high throughput and screening to identify the first reported inhibitors of the other key target, the XPF endonuclease domain. We demonstrate that two of these compounds display specificity for ERCC1–XPF over two other endonucleases, bind to ERCC1–XPF, inhibit Nucleotide Excision Repair in two independent assays and specifically sensitise Nucleotide Excision Repair-proficient, but not Nucleotide Excision Repair-deficient human and mouse cells to cisplatin.
Activation-induced deoxycytidine deaminase (AID) initiates somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class-switch recombination (CSR) by deaminating C → U during transcription of Ig-variable (V) and Ig-switch (S) region DNA, which is essential to produce high-affinity antibodies. Here we report the crystal structure of a soluble human AID variant at 2.8 Å resolution that favors targeting WRC motifs (W = A/T, R = A/G) , and executes Ig V SHM in Ramos B-cells. A specificity loop extending away from the active site to accommodate two purine bases next to C, differs significantly in sequence, length, and conformation from APOBEC proteins Apo3A and Apo3G, which strongly favor pyrimidines at −1 and −2 positions. Individual amino acid contributions to specificity and processivity were measured in relation to a proposed ssDNA binding cleft. This study provides a structural basis for residue contributions to DNA scanning properties unique to AID, and for disease mutations in human HIGM-2 syndrome.
DNA ligases are attractive therapeutics because of their involvement in completing the repair of almost all types of DNA damage. A series of DNA ligase inhibitors with differing selectivity for the three human DNA ligases were identified using a structure-based approach with one of these inhibitors being used to inhibit abnormal DNA ligase IIIα-dependent repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB)s in breast cancer, neuroblastoma and leukemia cell lines. Raghavan and colleagues reported the characterization of a derivative of one of the previously identified DNA ligase inhibitors, which they called SCR7 (designated SCR7-R in our experiments using SCR7). SCR7 appeared to show increased selectivity for DNA ligase IV, inhibit the repair of DSBs by the DNA ligase IV-dependent non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway, reduce tumor growth, and increase the efficacy of DSB-inducing therapeutic modalities in mouse xenografts. In attempting to synthesize SCR7, we encountered problems with the synthesis procedures and discovered discrepancies in its reported structure. We determined the structure of a sample of SCR7 and a related compound, SCR7-G, that is the major product generated by the published synthesis procedure for SCR7. We also found that SCR7-G has the same structure as the compound (SCR7-X) available from a commercial vendor (XcessBio). The various SCR7 preparations had similar activity in DNA ligation assay assays, exhibiting greater activity against DNA ligases I and III than DNA ligase IV. Furthermore, SCR7-R failed to inhibit DNA ligase IV-dependent V(D)J recombination in a cell-based assay. Based on our results, we conclude that SCR7 and the SCR7 derivatives are neither selective nor potent inhibitors of DNA ligase IV.
PrimPol is a recently described DNA polymerase that has the virtue of initiating DNA synthesis. In addition of being a DNA primase, PrimPol's polymerase activity has a large capacity to tolerate different kind of lesions. The different strategies used by PrimPol for DNA damage tolerance are based on its capacity to “read” certain lesions, to skip unreadable lesions, and as an ultimate solution, to restart DNA synthesis beyond the lesion thus acting as a TLS primase. This lesion bypass potential, revised in this article, is strengthened by the preferential use of moderate concentrations of manganese ions as the preferred metal activator. We show here that PrimPol is able to extend RNA primers with ribonucleotides, even when bypassing 8oxoG lesions, suggesting a potential new scenario for PrimPol as a TLS polymerase assisting transcription. We also show that PrimPol displays a high degree of versatility to accept or induce distortions of both primer and template strands, creating alternative alignments based on microhomology that would serve to skip unreadable lesions and to connect separate strands. In good agreement, PrimPol is highly prone to generate indels at short nucleotide repeats. Finally, an evolutionary view of the relationship between translesion synthesis and primase functions is briefly discussed.
In mammalian cells repair of radiation-induced DNA damage appears to be also controlled by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with a special impact on DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair. Aim of this study was to demonstrate this interaction between EGFR signalling and DNA DSB repair and to identify the underlying downstream pathways. We especially wanted to know in how far non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) as the most important DSB repair pathway is involved in this interaction. Overall DSB repair was determined by counting γH2AX foci remaining 24 after irradiation, while NHEJ activity was monitored by using a specially designed repair construct stably integrated into the genome. The overall DSB repair capacity was clearly enhanced when EGFR was activated by its natural ligand EGF and, vice versa, was reduced when EGFR was blocked either by the specific antibody Cetuximab or the tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib, whereby reduction was clearly stronger for erlotinib. There was also a difference in the pathways affected. While erlotinib lead to a block of both, MAPK as well as AKT signalling, Cetuximab only affected MAPK. As demonstrated by specific inhibitors (PD98059, AKTIII) EGFR interacts with DSB repair mostly via MAPK pathway. Also for NHEJ activity, there was a substantial increase, when EGFR was activated by EGF as determined for two different reporter cell lines (A549.EJ and H1299.EJ) and, vice versa, a reduction was seen when EGFR signalling was blocked by Cetuximab or erlotinib. There was, however, no difference for the two inhibitors used. This regulation of NHEJ by EGFR was only blocked when ERK was affected by siRNA but not when AKT was knocked down. These data indicate that EGFR modulates DSB repair by regulating NHEJ via MAPK signalling.
Bulky cisplatin lesions are repaired primarily by nucleotide excision repair (NER), in which the structure specific endonuclease XPF–ERCC1 is a critical component. It is now known that the XPF–ERCC1 complex has repair functions beyond NER and plays a role in homologous recombination (HR). It has been suggested that expression of ERCC1 correlates with cisplatin drug resistance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In our study, using NSCLC, ovarian, and breast cancer cells, we show that the XPF–ERCC1 complex is a valid target to increase cisplatin cytotoxicity and efficacy. We targeted XPF–ERCC1 complex by RNA interference and assessed the repair capacity of cisplatin intrastrand and interstrand crosslinks by ELISA and alkaline comet assay, respectively. We also assessed the repair of cisplatin-ICL-induced double-strand breaks (DSBs) by monitoring γ-H2AX focus formation. Interestingly, XPF protein levels were significantly reduced following ERCC1 downregulation, but the converse was not observed. The transcript levels were unaffected suggesting that XPF protein stability is likely affected. The repair of both types of cisplatin-DNA lesions was decreased with downregulation of XPF, ERCC1 or both XPF–ERCC1. The ICL-induced DSBs persist in the absence of XPF–ERCC1. The suppression of the XPF–ERCC1 complex significantly decreases the cellular viability which correlates well with the decrease in DNA repair capacity. A double knockdown of XPF–ERCC1 displays the greatest level of cellular cytotoxicity when compared with XPF or ERCC1 alone. The difference in cytotoxicity observed is likely due to the level of total protein complex remaining. These data demonstrate that XPF–ERCC1 is a valid target to enhance cisplatin efficacy in cancer cells by affecting cisplatin-DNA repair pathways.