p21Cip1/Waf1 Disrupts the Recruitment of Human Fen1 by Proliferating-Cell Nuclear Antigen into the DNA Replication Complex
Fen1 or maturation factor 1 is a 5'-3' exonuclease essential for the degradation of the RNA primer-DNA junctions at the 5' ends of immature Okazaki fragments prior to their ligation into a continuous DNA strand. The gene is also necessary for repair of damaged DNA in yeast. We report that human proliferating-cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) associates with human Fen1 with a Kd of 60 nM and an apparent stoichiometry of three Fen1 molecules per PCNA trimer. The Fen1-PCNA association is seen in cell extracts without overexpression of either partner and is mediated by a basic region at the C terminus of Fen1. Therefore, the polymerase delta-PCNA-Fen1 complex has all the activities associated with prokaryotic DNA polymerases involved in replication: 5'-3' polymerase, 3'-5' exonuclease, and 5'-3' exonuclease. Although p21, a regulatory protein induced by p53 in response to DNA damage, interacts with PCNA with a comparable Kd (10 nM) and a stoichiometry of three molecules of p21 per PCNA trimer, a p21-PCNA-Fen1 complex is not formed. This mutually exclusive interaction suggests that the conformation of a PCNA trimer switches such that it can either bind p21 or Fen1. Furthermore, overexpression of p21 can disrupt Fen1-PCNA interaction in vivo. Therefore, besides interfering with the processivity of polymerase delta-PCNA, p21 also uncouples Fen1 from the PCNA scaffold.