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J Biol Chem. 2000 Sep 15;275(37):28349-52.

Functional interaction between Ku and the werner syndrome protein in DNA end processing.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Biol Chem 2000 Dec 15;275(50):39800.


Werner syndrome (WS) is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by premature aging. The gene responsible for the syndrome was recently cloned and shown to encode a protein with strong homology to DNA/RNA helicases. In addition, the Werner syndrome protein (WRN) possesses an exonuclease activity. Based on the homology to helicases it has been proposed that WRN functions in some aspects of DNA replication, recombination, or repair. However, there is currently no evidence of a role of WRN in any of these processes; therefore, its biological function remains unknown. Using a biochemical approach, we have identified two polypeptides that bind to the WRN protein. Peptide sequence analysis indicates that the two proteins are identical to Ku70 and Ku80, a heterodimer involved in double strand DNA break repair by non-homologous DNA end joining. Protein-protein interaction studies reveal that WRN binds directly to Ku80 and that this interaction is mediated by the amino terminus of WRN. In addition, we show that the binding of Ku alters the specificity of the WRN exonuclease. These results suggest a potential involvement of WRN in the repair of double strand DNA breaks.

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