Homologous recombination and maintenance of genome integrity: cancer and aging through the prism of human RecQ helicases

Committee on Genetics, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
Mechanisms of Ageing and Development (Impact Factor: 3.51). 07/2008; 129(7-8):425-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.mad.2008.03.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Homologous recombination (HR) is a genetic mechanism in somatic cells that repairs DNA double-strand breaks and restores productive DNA synthesis following disruption of replication forks. Although HR is indispensable for maintaining genome integrity, it must be tightly regulated to avoid harmful outcomes. HR-associated genomic instabilities arise in three human genetic disorders, Bloom syndrome (BS), Werner syndrome (WS), and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS), which are caused by defects in three individual proteins of the RecQ family of helicases, BLM, WRN, and RECQL4, respectively. Cells derived from persons with these syndromes display varying types of genomic instability as evidenced by the presence of different kinds of chromosomal abnormalities and different sensitivities to DNA damaging agents. Persons with these syndromes exhibit a variety of developmental defects and are predisposed to a wide range of cancers. WS and RTS are further characterized by premature aging. Recent research has shown many connections between all three proteins and the regulation of excess HR. Here, we illustrate the elaborate networks of BLM, WRN, and RECQL4 in regulating HR, and the potential mechanistic linkages to cancer and aging.

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