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Although poly-ADP-ribosylation (PARylation) of DNA repair factors had been well documented, its role in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is poorly understood. NR4A nuclear orphan receptors were previously linked to DSB repair; however, their function in the process remains elusive. Classically, NR4As function as transcription factors using a specialized tandem zinc-finger DNA-binding domain (DBD) for target gene induction. Here, we show that NR4A DBD is bi-functional and can bind poly-ADP-ribose (PAR) through a pocket localized in the second zinc finger. Separation-of-function mutants demonstrate that NR4A PAR binding, while dispensable for transcriptional activity, facilitates repair of radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks in G1. Moreover, we define DNA-PKcs protein as a prominent target of ionizing radiation-induced PARylation. Mechanistically, NR4As function by directly targeting poly-ADP-ribosylated DNA-PKcs to facilitate its autophosphorylation-promoting DNA-PK kinase assembly at DNA lesions. Selective targeting of the PAR-binding pocket of NR4A presents an opportunity for cancer therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





2028 - 2036.e6


DNA repair, DNA-PK, DSB, NHEJ, NR4A, PARP, double-strand breaks, non-homologous end joining, poly-ADP-ribose, transcription factors