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Mech Ageing Dev. 2007 Nov-Dec;128(11-12):601-8. Epub 2007 Sep 12.

Deletion of Ku80 causes early aging independent of chronic inflammation and Rag-1-induced DSBs.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78245-3207, USA.


Animal models of premature aging are often defective for DNA repair. Ku80-mutant mice are disabled for nonhomologous end joining; a pathway that repairs both spontaneous DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and induced DNA DSBs generated by the action of a complex composed of Rag-1 and Rag-2 (Rag). Rag is essential for inducing DSBs important for assembling V(D)J segments of antigen receptor genes that are required for lymphocyte development. Thus, deletion of either Rag-1 or Ku80 causes severe combined immunodeficiency (scid) leading to chronic inflammation. In addition, Rag-1 induces breaks at non-B DNA structures. Previously we reported Ku80-mutant mice undergo premature aging, yet we do not know the root cause of this phenotype. Early aging may be caused by either defective repair of spontaneous DNA damage, defective repair of Rag-1-induced breaks or chronic inflammation caused by scid. To address this issue, we analyzed aging in control and Ku80-mutant mice deleted for Rag-1 such that both cohorts are scid and suffer from chronic inflammation. We make two observations: (1) chronic inflammation does not cause premature aging in these mice and (2) Ku80-mutant mice exhibit early aging independent of Rag-1. Therefore, this study supports defective repair of spontaneous DNA damage as the root cause of early aging in Ku80-mutant mice.

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