Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
RecQ-like helicases are a highly conserved family of proteins which are critical for preserving genome integrity. Genome instability is considered a hallmark of cancer and mutations within three of the five human RECQ genes cause hereditary syndromes that are associated with cancer predisposition. The human RecQ-like helicase BLM has a central role in DNA damage signaling, repair, replication, and telomere maintenance. BLM and its budding yeast orthologue Sgs1 unwind double-stranded DNA intermediates. Intriguingly, BLM functions in both a pro- and anti-recombinogenic manner upon replicative damage, acting on similar substrates. Thus, BLM activity must be intricately controlled to prevent illegitimate recombination events that could have detrimental effects on genome integrity. In recent years it has become evident that post-translational modifications (PTMs) of BLM allow a fine-tuning of its function. To date, BLM phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and SUMOylation have been identified, in turn regulating its subcellular localization, protein-protein interactions, and protein stability. In this review, we will discuss the cellular context of when and how these different modifications of BLM occur. We will reflect on the current model of how PTMs control BLM function during DNA damage repair and compare this to what is known about post-translational regulation of the budding yeast orthologue Sgs1. Finally, we will provide an outlook toward future research, in particular to dissect the cross-talk between the individual PTMs on BLM.