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Nucleic Acids Res. 2000 Jan 15;28(2):648-54.

WRN helicase expression in Werner syndrome cell lines.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Mutations in the chromosome 8p WRN gene cause Werner syndrome (WRN), a human autosomal recessive disease that mimics premature aging and is associated with genetic instability and an increased risk of cancer. All of the WRN mutations identified in WRN patients are predicted to truncate the WRN protein with loss of a C-terminal nuclear localization signal. However, many of these truncated proteins would retain WRN helicase and/or nuclease functional domains. We have used a combination of immune blot and immune precipitation assays to quantify WRN protein and its associated 3'-->5' helicase activity in genetically characterized WRN patient cell lines. None of the cell lines from patients harboring four different WRN mutations contained detectable WRN protein or immune-precipitable WRN helicase activity. Cell lines from WRN heterozygous individuals contained reduced amounts of both WRN protein and helicase activity. Quantitative immune blot analyses indicate that both lymphoblastoid cell lines and fibroblasts contain approximately 6 x 10(4)WRN molecules/cell. Our results indicate that most WRN mutations result in functionally equivalent null alleles, that WRN heterozygote effects may result from haploinsufficiency and that successful modeling of WRN pathogenesis in the mouse or in other model systems will require the use of WRN mutations that eliminate WRN protein expression.

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