Differential responses to high- and low-dose ultraviolet-B stress in tobacco Bright Yellow-2 cells
DNA damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be removed by nucleotide excision repair through two sub-pathways, one general (GGR) and the other specific for transcribed DNA (TCR), and the processing of unrepaired lesions trigger signals that may lead to cell death. These signals involve the tumor suppressor p53 protein, a central regulator of cell responses to DNA damage, and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Mdm2, that forms a feedback regulatory loop with p53. The involvement of cell cycle and transcription on the signaling to apoptosis was investigated in UVB-irradiated synchronized, DNA repair proficient, CS-B (TCR-deficient) and XP-C (GGR-deficient) primary human fibroblasts. Cells were irradiated in the G1 phase of the cell cycle, with two doses with equivalent levels of apoptosis (low and high), defined for each cell line. In the three cell lines, the low doses of UVB caused only a transient delay in progression to the S phase, whereas the high doses induced permanent cell cycle arrest. However, while accumulation of Mdm2 correlated well with the recovery from transcription inhibition at the low doses for normal and CS-B fibroblasts, for XP-C cells this protein was shown to be accumulated even at UVB doses that induced high levels of apoptosis. Thus, UVB-induced accumulation of Mdm2 is critical for counteracting p53 activation and apoptosis avoidance, but its effect is limited due to transcription inhibition. However, in the case of XP-C cells, an excess of unrepaired DNA damage would be sufficient to block S phase progression, which would signal to apoptosis, independent of Mdm2 accumulation. The data clearly discriminate DNA damage signals that lead to cell death, depending on the presence of UVB-induced DNA damage in replicating or transcribing regions.