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Aging (Albany NY). 2009 Feb 5;1(2):219-33.

WRN helicase defective in the premature aging disorder Werner syndrome genetically interacts with topoisomerase 3 and restores the top3 slow growth phenotype of sgs1 top3.

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Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, NIH, NIH, NIH Biomedical Research Center, 251 Bayview Blvd, Suite 100, Rm #06B125, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Werner syndrome (WS) is a premature aging disorder characterized by genomic instability. The WRN gene defective in WS encodes a protein with both helicase and exonuclease activities that interacts with proteins implicated in DNA metabolism. To understand its genetic functions, we examined the ability of human WRN to rescue phenotypes associated with sgs1, the sole RecQ helicase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. WRN failed to rescue sgs1 sensitivity to the DNA damaging agent methylmethane sulfonate or replication inhibitor hydroxyurea, suggesting divergent functions of human and yeast RecQ helicases. However, physiological expression of WRN in sgs1 top3 restored top3 slow growth phenotype, whereas no effect on growth was observed with wild-type or sgs1 strains. Slow growth of WRN-transformed sgs1 top3 correlated with an elevated population of large-budded cells with undivided nuclei, indicating restoration of cell cycle delay in late S/G2 characteristic of top3. WRN helicase but not exonuclease activity was genetically required for restoration of top3 growth phenotype, demonstrating separation of function of WRN catalytic activities. A naturally occurring missense polymorphism in WRN that interferes with helicase activity abolished its ability to restore top3 slow growth phenotype. Proposed roles of WRN in genetic pathways important for the suppression of genomic instability are discussed.


Bloom's syndrome; RecQ; Sgs1; Werner syndrome; genomic instability; helicase; topoisomerase

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