The MRN complex is transcriptionally regulated by MYCN during neural cell proliferation to control replication stress

Marialaura Petroni, F. Sardina, C. Heil, M. Sahún-Roncero, V. Colicchia, Veronica Veschi, Sonia Albini, Doriana Fruci, B. Ricci, A. Soriani, Lucia Di Marcotullio, Isabella Screpanti, Alberto Gulino, Giuseppe Giannini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The MRE11/RAD50/NBS1 (MRN) complex is a major sensor of DNA double strand breaks, whose role in controlling faithful DNA replication and preventing replication stress is also emerging. Inactivation of the MRN complex invariably leads to developmental and/or degenerative neuronal defects, the pathogenesis of which still remains poorly understood. In particular, NBS1 gene mutations are associated with microcephaly and strongly impaired cerebellar development, both in humans and in the mouse model. These phenotypes strikingly overlap those induced by inactivation of MYCN, an essential promoter of the expansion of neuronal stem and progenitor cells, suggesting that MYCN and the MRN complex might be connected on a unique pathway essential for the safe expansion of neuronal cells. Here, we show that MYCN transcriptionally controls the expression of each component of the MRN complex. By genetic and pharmacological inhibition of the MRN complex in a MYCN overexpression model and in the more physiological context of the Hedgehog-dependent expansion of primary cerebellar granule progenitor cells, we also show that the MRN complex is required for MYCN-dependent proliferation. Indeed, its inhibition resulted in DNA damage, activation of a DNA damage response, and cell death in a MYCN- and replication-dependent manner. Our data indicate the MRN complex is essential to restrain MYCN-induced replication stress during neural cell proliferation and support the hypothesis that replication-born DNA damage is responsible for the neuronal defects associated with MRN dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-206
Number of pages10
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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