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J Biol Chem. 1996 Feb 23;271(8):4497-503.

High frequency and error-prone DNA recombination in ataxia telangiectasia cell lines.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


The only specific DNA repair defect found in ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) cells is mis-repair of cleaved DNA. In this report we measured DNA recombination, given its role in DNA repair and genetic instability. Using plasmids containing selectable reporter genes, we found a higher frequency of both chromosomal recombination (>100 times) and extra-chromosomal recombination (27 times) in SV40-transformed A-T cell lines compared with in an SV40-transformed normal fibroblast cell line. Southern analysis of single A-T colonies exhibiting post-integration recombination revealed that 24/27 had undergone aberrant rearrangements; recombination in normal fibroblast colonies was achieved by gene conversion in 8/11 clones and 10/11 clones showed unchanged copies of the plasmid. Using co-transfection of two integrating plasmids, each containing a separate deletion in the xgprt reporter gene, the 27 times difference in extra-chromosomal recombination was found when the plasmids were cleaved at a distance from the reporter gene. When the plasmids were cleaved within the reporter gene, the co-transfection frequency was reduced in A-T, but was increased in normal cells. We conclude that A-T cell lines have not only a high frequency chromosomal and extra-chromosomal recombination, but also exhibit error-prone recombination of cleaved DNA.

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