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Cell Cycle. 2008 Mar 15;7(6):796-807. Epub 2008 Jan 4.

The RecQ helicase WRN is required for normal replication fork progression after DNA damage or replication fork arrest.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7705, USA. julias@u.washington.edu


Werner syndrome is an autosomal recessive genetic instability and cancer predisposition syndrome with features of premature aging. Several lines of evidence have suggested that the Werner syndrome protein WRN plays a role in DNA replication and S-phase progression. In order to define the exact role of WRN in genomic replication we examined cell cycle kinetics during normal cell division and after methyl-methane-sulfonate (MMS) DNA damage or hydroxyurea (HU)-mediated replication arrest following acute depletion of WRN from human fibroblasts. Loss of WRN markedly extended the time cells needed to complete the cell cycle after either of these genotoxic treatments. Moreover, replication track analysis of individual, stretched DNA fibers showed that WRN depletion significantly reduced the speed at which replication forks elongated in vivo after MMS or HU treatment. These results establish the importance of WRN during genomic replication and indicate that WRN acts to facilitate fork progression after DNA damage or replication arrest. The data provide a mechanistic basis for a better understanding of WRN-mediated maintenance of genomic stability and for predicting the outcomes of DNA-targeting chemotherapy in several adult cancers that silence WRN expression.

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