[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutation of BLM helicase causes Blooms syndrome, a disorder associated with genome instability, high levels of sister chromatid exchanges, and cancer predisposition. To study the influence of BLM on double-strand break (DSB) repair in human chromosomes, we stably transfected a normal human cell line with a DNA substrate that contained a thymidine kinase (tk)-neo fusion gene disrupted by the recognition site for endonuclease I-SceI. The substrate also contained a closely linked functional tk gene to serve as a recombination partner for the tk-neo fusion gene. We derived two cell lines each containing a single integrated copy of the DNA substrate. In these cell lines, a DSB was introduced within the tk-neo fusion gene by expression of I-SceI. DSB repair events that occurred via homologous recombination (HR) or nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) were recovered by selection for G418-resistant clones. DSB repair was examined under conditions of either normal BLM expression or reduced BLM expression brought about by RNA interference. We report that BLM knockdown in both cell lines specifically increased the frequency of HR events that produced deletions by crossovers or single-strand annealing while leaving the frequency of gene conversions unchanged or reduced. We observed no change in the accuracy of individual HR events and no substantial alteration of the nature of individual NHEJ events when BLM expression was reduced. Our work provides the first direct evidence that BLM influences DSB repair pathway choice in human chromosomes and suggests that BLM deficiency can engender genomic instability by provoking an increased frequency of HR events of a potentially deleterious nature.
DNA repair 02/2011; 10(4):416-26. · 3.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thymidylate deprivation brings about "thymineless death" in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Although the precise mechanism for thymineless death has remained elusive, inhibition of the enzyme thymidylate synthase (TS), which catalyzes the de novo synthesis of TMP, has served for many years as a basis for chemotherapeutic strategies. Numerous studies have identified a variety of cellular responses to thymidylate deprivation, including disruption of DNA replication and induction of DNA breaks. Since stalled or collapsed replication forks and strand breaks are generally viewed as being recombinogenic, it is not surprising that a link has been demonstrated between recombination induction and thymidylate deprivation in bacteria and lower eukaryotes. A similar connection between recombination and TS inhibition has been suggested by studies done in mammalian cells, but the relationship between recombination and TS inhibition in mammalian cells had not been demonstrated rigorously. To gain insight into the mechanism of thymineless death in mammalian cells, in this work we undertook a direct investigation of recombination in human cells treated with raltitrexed (RTX), a folate analog that is a specific inhibitor of TS. Using a model system to study intrachromosomal homologous recombination in cultured fibroblasts, we provide definitive evidence that treatment with RTX can stimulate accurate recombination events in human cells. Gene conversions not associated with crossovers were specifically enhanced several-fold by RTX. Additional experiments demonstrated that recombination events provoked by a double-strand break (DSB) were not impacted by treatment with RTX, nor was error-prone DSB repair via nonhomologous end-joining. Our work provides evidence that thymineless death in human cells is not mediated by corruption of DSB repair processes and suggests that an increase in chromosomal recombination may be an important element of cellular responses leading to thymineless death.
DNA Repair 08/2008; 7(10):1624-35. · 3.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We designed DNA substrates to study intrachromosomal recombination in mammalian chromosomes. Each substrate contains a thymidine kinase (tk) gene fused to a neomycin resistance (neo) gene. The fusion gene is disrupted by an oligonucleotide containing the 18-bp recognition site for endonuclease I-SceI. Substrates also contain a "donor" tk sequence that displays 1% or 19% sequence divergence relative to the tk portion of the fusion gene. Each donor serves as a potential recombination partner for the fusion gene. After stably transfecting substrates into mammalian cell lines, we investigated spontaneous recombination and double-strand break (DSB)-induced recombination following I-SceI expression. No recombination events between sequences with 19% divergence were recovered. Strikingly, even though no selection for accurate repair was imposed, accurate conservative homologous recombination was the predominant DSB repair event recovered from rodent and human cell lines transfected with the substrate containing sequences displaying 1% divergence. Our work is the first unequivocal demonstration that homologous recombination can serve as a major DSB repair pathway in mammalian chromosomes. We also found that Msh2 can modulate homologous recombination in that Msh2 deficiency promoted discontinuity and increased length of gene conversion tracts and brought about a severalfold increase in the overall frequency of DSB-induced recombination.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 12/2007; 27(22):7816-27. · 5.04 Impact Factor