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Hum Mol Genet. 2012 May 15;21(10):2181-93. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds033. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

Characterizing the functional consequences of haploinsufficiency of NELF-A (WHSC2) and SLBP identifies novel cellular phenotypes in Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

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Human DNA Damage Response Disorders Group, Genome Damage and Stability Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RQ, UK.


Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) is a contiguous gene deletion disorder associated with the distal part of the short arm of chromosome 4 (4p16.3). Employing a unique panel of patient-derived cell lines with differing-sized 4p deletions, we provide evidence that haploinsufficiency of SLBP and/or WHSC2 (NELF-A) contributes to several novel cellular phenotypes of WHS, including delayed progression from S-phase into M-phase, reduced DNA replication in asynchronous culture and altered higher order chromatin assembly. The latter is evidenced by reduced histone-chromatin association, elevated levels of soluble chaperone-bound histone H3 and increased sensitivity to micrococcal nuclease digestion in WHS patient-derived cells. We also observed increased camptothecin-induced inhibition of DNA replication and hypersensitivity to killing. Our work provides a novel pathogenomic insight into the aetiology of WHS by describing it, for the first time, as a disorder of impaired chromatin reorganization. Delayed cell-cycle progression and impaired DNA replication likely underlie or contribute to microcephaly, pre- and postnatal growth retardation, which constitute the core clinical features of WHS.

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