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Genetics. 2002 Jun;161(2):651-60.

Frequent germline mutations and somatic repeat instability in DNA mismatch-repair-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Hubrecht Laboratory, Centre for Biomedical Genetics, 3584 CT, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Mismatch-repair-deficient mutants were initially recognized as mutation-prone derivatives of bacteria, and later mismatch repair deficiency was found to predispose humans to colon cancers (HNPCC). We generated mismatch-repair-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans by deleting the msh-6 gene and analyzed the fidelity of transmission of genetic information to subsequent generations. msh-6-defective animals show an elevated level of spontaneous mutants in both the male and female germline; also repeated DNA tracts are unstable. To monitor DNA repeat instability in somatic tissue, we developed a sensitive system, making use of heat-shock promoter-driven lacZ transgenes, but with a repeat that puts this reporter gene out of frame. In genetic msh-6-deficient animals lacZ+ patches are observed as a result of somatic repeat instability. RNA interference by feeding wild-type animals dsRNA homologous to msh-2 or msh-6 also resulted in somatic DNA instability, as well as in germline mutagenesis, indicating that one can use C. elegans as a model system to discover genes involved in maintaining DNA stability by large-scale RNAi screens.

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