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Exp Cell Res. 1992 Oct;202(2):267-73.

Impaired S-phase transit of Werner syndrome cells expressed in lymphoblastoid cell lines.

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Department of Human Genetics, University of Würzburg, Germany.


The clinical phenotype of Werner's syndrome (WS) includes short stature, premature cataracts, skin atrophy, osteoporosis, graying and loss of hair, neoplasia, diabetes mellitus, and arteriosclerosis. Cultured cells from patients with this autosomal recessive disorder exhibit chromosomal instability and a markedly reduced replicative lifespan and growth rate. To elucidate the cell cycle alterations associated with the growth deficit, we continuously labeled lymphoid cell lines from five WS patients and from four healthy adult controls with 5-bromodeoxyuridine. Bivariate Hoechst 33258/ethidium bromide flow cytometry revealed a 2.4-h prolongation in the minimal duration of the S phase of WS cells (P less than 0.005). Moreover, the fraction of proliferating cells irreversibly arrested in the S phase (5.4% vs 1.4% in controls) was significantly elevated in WS (P less than 0.001). Other cell cycle compartments were not significantly affected in WS cell lines. As a partial test of the hypothesis that the WS phenotype is due to a defect in DNA topoisomerase I (topo I) or DNA topoisomerase II (topo II) we exposed lymphoid cells from a healthy control to the topo I inhibitor camptothecin or to the topo II inhibitor 4'-(9-acridinylamino)methanesulfon-m-anisidine. The cell kinetic alterations elicited by these compounds differed from that exhibited by untreated WS patients. Thus, a primary defect in topo I or II is unlikely in WS. Our cell cycle results, however, provide important evidence that the biochemical genetic lesion is in fact expressed in lymphoblastoid cell lines, the most readily available cells from such subjects.

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