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Am J Hum Genet. 1993 Dec;53(6):1206-16.

Expression cloning of multiple human cDNAs that complement the phenotypic defects of ataxia-telangiectasia group D fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510.


Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is an inherited human disease of unknown etiology associated with neurologic degeneration, immune dysfunction, cancer risk, and genetic instability. A-T cells are sensitive to ionizing radiation and radiomimetic drugs, offering the possibility of cloning A-T genes by phenotypic complementation. We have used this sensitivity to isolate the first human cDNAs reported to complement A-T cells in culture. Complementation group D A-T fibroblasts were transfected with an episomal vector-based human cDNA library, approximately 610,000 resultant transformants were treated with the radiomimetic drug streptonigrin-resistant, and nine unrelated cDNAs were recovered from 29 surviving streptonigrin-resistant clones. Five cDNAs were mapped, but none localized to 11q23, the site of A-T complementation group A and C loci. Four of the mapped cDNAs conferred mutagen resistance to A-T D fibroblasts on secondary transfection. One cDNA was identified as a fragment of dek, a gene involved in acute myeloid leukemia. The dek cDNA fragment and pCAT4.5, a 4.5-kb cDNA that mapped to 17p11, independently complemented three different phenotypic abnormalities of A-T D fibroblasts (mutagen sensitivity, hyper-recombination, and radio-resistant DNA synthesis). The pCAT4.5 cDNA did not complement the mutagen sensitivity of an A-T group C fibroblast line, suggesting that it represents a candidate disease gene for group D A-T. Our results indicate that phenotypic complementation alone is insufficient evidence to prove that a candidate cDNA is an A-T disease gene. The complementing cDNAs may represent previously uncharacterized genes that function in the same pathway as does the A-T gene product(s) in the regulation of cellular responses to DNA damage.

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