Evolution-based screening enables genome-wide prioritization and discovery of DNA repair genes

Gregory J Brunette, Mohd A Jamalruddin, Robert A Baldock, Nathan L Clark, Kara A Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA repair is critical for genome stability and is maintained through conserved pathways. Traditional genome-wide mammalian screens are both expensive and laborious. However, computational approaches circumvent these limitations and are a powerful tool to identify new DNA repair factors. By analyzing the evolutionary relationships between genes in the major DNA repair pathways, we uncovered functional relationships between individual genes and identified partners. Here we ranked 17,487 mammalian genes for coevolution with 6 distinct DNA repair pathways. Direct comparison to genetic screens for homologous recombination or Fanconi anemia factors indicates that our evolution-based screen is comparable, if not superior, to traditional screening approaches. Demonstrating the utility of our strategy, we identify a role for the DNA damage-induced apoptosis suppressor (DDIAS) gene in double-strand break repair based on its coevolution with homologous recombination. DDIAS knockdown results in DNA double-strand breaks, indicated by ATM kinase activation and 53BP1 foci induction. Additionally, DDIAS-depleted cells are deficient for homologous recombination. Our results reveal that evolutionary analysis is a powerful tool to uncover novel factors and functional relationships in DNA repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19593-19599
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Early online date9 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2019


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins/genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins/genetics
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • DNA Repair/genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genome-Wide Association Study/methods
  • Genomic Instability/genetics
  • Homologous Recombination/genetics
  • Humans
  • Rad51 Recombinase/genetics


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