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DNA Repair (Amst). 2004 Jun 3;3(6):629-38.

The Werner syndrome protein confers resistance to the DNA lesions N3-methyladenine and O6-methylguanine: implications for WRN function.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7705, USA.


The Werner syndrome (WS) protein (WRN), a DNA helicase/exonuclease, is required for genomic stability and avoidance of cancer. Current evidence suggests that WRN is involved in the resolution of stalled and/or collapsed replication forks. This function is indicated, in part, by replication defects in WS cells and by hypersensitivity to agents causing major structural aberrations in DNA that block replication. We show here that antisense suppression of WRN in two human glioma cell lines reproduces hallmarks of the drug cytotoxicity profile of WS cells, namely, hypersensitivity to 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide, camptothecin and hydroxyurea. We also show that antisense-treated cells are hypersensitive to methyl-lexitropsin, a site-specific alkylating agent that produces mainly N3-methyladenine, a cytotoxic and replication-blocking lesion. Antisense-treated cells are hypersensitive to O(6)-methylguanine adducts as well, but only when repair by O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase is lacking. Our results illustrate the drug sensitivity caused by deficiency of WRN in a uniform genetic background. They extend the WRN DNA damage sensitivity spectrum to methyl base adducts that can result in blocked replication, and suggest that WRN may be required for resumption of processive replication when incomplete repair of DNA damage leaves blocking lesions at forks. The evidence that highly disparate lesions fall within the purview of WRN, and that abrogating DNA repair can reveal dependence on WRN, suggests that WRN may protect the genome from the lethal, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of widely diverse DNA damage arising from endogenous processes and environmental agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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