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Genes Dev. 1998 Nov 1;12(21):3382-93.

Stage-specific apoptosis, developmental delay, and embryonic lethality in mice homozygous for a targeted disruption in the murine Bloom's syndrome gene.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA.


Bloom's syndrome is a human autosomal genetic disorder characterized at the cellular level by genome instability and increased sister chomatid exchanges (SCEs). Clinical features of the disease include proportional dwarfism and a predisposition to develop a wide variety of malignancies. The human BLM gene has been cloned recently and encodes a DNA helicase. Mouse embryos homozygous for a targeted mutation in the murine Bloom's syndrome gene (Blm) are developmentally delayed and die by embryonic day 13.5. The fact that the interrupted gene is the homolog of the human BLM gene was confirmed by its homologous sequence, its chromosomal location, and by demonstrating high numbers of SCEs in cultured murine Blm-/- fibroblasts. The proportional dwarfism seen in the human is consistent with the small size and developmental delay (12-24 hr) seen during mid-gestation in murine Blm-/- embryos. Interestingly, the growth retardation in mutant embryos can be accounted for by a wave of increased apoptosis in the epiblast restricted to early post-implantation embryogenesis. Mutant embryos do not survive past day 13.5, and at this time exhibit severe anemia. Red blood cells and their precursors from Blm-/- embryos are heterogeneous in appearance and have increased numbers of macrocytes and micronuclei. Both the apoptotic wave and the appearance of micronuclei in red blood cells are likely cellular consequences of damaged DNA caused by effects on replicating or segregating chromosomes.

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