The DNA damage repair protein Ku70 interacts with FOXO4 to coordinate a conserved cellular stress response

In this study, we searched for proteins regulating the tumor suppressor and life-span regulator FOXO4. Through an unbiased tandem-affinity purification strategy combined with mass spectrometry, we identified the heterodimer Ku70/Ku80 (Ku), a DNA double-strand break repair component. Using biochemical interaction studies, we found Ku70 to be necessary and sufficient for the interaction. FOXO4 mediates its tumor-suppressive function in part through transcriptional regulation of the cell cycle arrest p27(kip1) gene. Immunoblotting, luciferase reporter assays, and flow cytometry showed that Ku70 inhibited FOXO4-mediated p27(kip1) transcription and cell cycle arrest induction by >40%. In contrast, Ku70 RNAi but not control RNAi significantly increased p27(kip1) transcription. In addition, in contrast to wild-type mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, Ku70(-/-) ES cells showed significantly increased FOXO activity, which was rescued by Ku70 reexpression. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated that Ku70 sequestered FOXO4 in the nucleus. Interestingly, the Ku70-FOXO4 interaction stoichiometry followed a nonlinear dose-response curve by hydrogen peroxide-generated oxidative stress. Low levels of oxidative stress increased interaction stoichiometry up to 75%, peaking at 50 μM, after which dissociation occurred. Because the Ku70 ortholog in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans was shown to regulate life span involving C. elegans FOXO, our findings suggest a conserved critical Ku70 role for FOXO function toward coordination of a survival program, regulated by the magnitude of oxidative damage.


A.B. Brenkman, N.J.F. van den Broek, P.L.J. de Keizer, D.C. van Gent, B.M.T. Burgering
Authors from the NMC: 
2010; 24 (11): 4271-4280
Published in: 
FASEB Journal
Date of publication: 
November, 2010
Status of the publication: