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Genetics. 1998 Apr;148(4):1637-46.

Functional overlap in mismatch repair by human MSH3 and MSH6.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Three human genes, hMSH2, hMSH3, and hMSH6, are homologues of the bacterial MutS gene whose products bind DNA mismatches to initiate strand-specific repair of DNA replication errors. Several studies suggest that a complex of hMSH2 x hMSH6 (hMutSalpha) functions primarily in repair of base x base mismatches or single extra bases, whereas a hMSH2 x hMSH3 complex (hMutSbeta) functions chiefly in repair of heteroduplexes containing two to four extra bases. In the present study, we compare results with a tumor cell line (HHUA) that is mutant in both hMSH3 and hMSH6 to results with derivative clones containing either wild-type hMSH3 or wild-type hMSH6, introduced by microcell-mediated transfer of chromosome 5 or 2, respectively. HHUA cells exhibit marked instability at 12 different microsatellite loci composed of repeat units of 1 to 4 base pairs. Compared to normal cells, HHUA cells have mutation rates at the HPRT locus that are elevated 500-fold for base substitutions and 2400-fold for single-base frameshifts. Extracts of HHUA cells are defective in strand-specific repair of substrates containing base x base mismatches or 1-4 extra bases. Transfer of either chromosome 5 (hMSH3) or 2 (hMSH6) into HHUA cells partially corrects instability at the microsatellite loci and also the substitution and frameshift mutator phenotypes at the HPRT locus. Extracts of these lines can repair some, but not all, heteroduplexes. The combined mutation rate and mismatch repair specificity data suggest that both hMSH3 and hMSH6 can independently participate in repair of replication errors containing base x base mismatches or 1-4 extra bases. Thus, these two gene products share redundant roles in controlling mutation rates in human cells.

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