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Nucleic Acids Res. 2001 Nov 15;29(22):4541-50.

Correction of liver dysfunction in DNA repair-deficient mice with an ERCC1 transgene.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Mayfield Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, UK.


The ERCC1 gene is essential for the repair of UV-induced DNA damage. Unlike most genes in the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway, ERCC1 is also involved in recombinational repair. Perhaps for this reason, ERCC1 knockout mice are not a model for the human NER deficiency disorder, xeroderma pigmentosum. Instead, ERCC1 null mice are severely runted and die before weaning from liver failure with accelerated hepatocyte polyploidy that is more reminiscent of a premature ageing disorder. To permit study of the role of ERCC1 in other tissues we have corrected the liver ERCC1 deficiency with a transgene under the control of a liver-specific promoter. The transgene alleviated runting and extended the lifespan. The elevated level of oxidative DNA damage and premature liver polyploidy were reversed and liver function was corrected. A widespread mitochondrial dysfunction was identified and an essential role for ERCC1 in the kidney was also revealed with transgene-containing ERCC1-deficient animals going on to die of renal failure. The nuclei of kidney proximal tubule cells became polyploid in a similar way to the premature liver polyploidy observed in younger ERCC1-deficient animals. We believe that this is a response to the accumulation of endogenous DNA damage in these particularly susceptible tissues which cannot be repaired in ERCC1-deficient animals.

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