The autosomal recessive immunodeficiency-centromeric instability-facial anomalies syndrome (ICF) is characterized by immunodeficiency, developmental delay, and facial anomalies. ICF2, caused by biallelic ZBTB24 gene mutations, is acknowledged primarily as an isolated B-cell defect. Here, we extend the phenotype spectrum by describing, in particular, for the first time the development of a combined immune defect throughout the disease course as well as putative autoimmune phenomena such as granulomatous hepatitis and nephritis. We also demonstrate impaired cell-proliferation and increased cell death of immune and non-immune cells as well as data suggesting a chromosome separation defect in addition to the known chromosome condensation defect.
Defects in SLX4, a scaffold for DNA repair nucleases, result in Fanconi anemia (FA), due to the defective repair of inter-strand DNA crosslinks (ICLs). Some FA patients have an SLX4 deletion removing two tandem UBZ4-type ubiquitin-binding domains that are implicated in protein recruitment to sites of DNA damage. Here, we show that human SLX4 is recruited to sites of ICL induction but that the UBZ-deleted form of SLX4 in cells from FA patients is not. SLX4 recruitment does not require either the ubiquitylation of FANCD2 or the E3 ligases RNF8, RAD18 and BRCA1. We show that the first (UBZ-1) but not the second UBZ domain of SLX4 binds to ubiquitin polymers, with a preference for K63-linked chains. Furthermore, UBZ-1 is required for SLX4 recruitment to ICL sites and for efficient ICL repair in murine fibroblasts. The SLX4 UBZ-2 domain does not bind to ubiquitin in vitro or contribute to ICL repair, but it is required for the resolution of Holliday junctions in vivo. These data shed light on SLX4 recruitment, and they point to the existence of currently unidentified ubiquitylated ligands and E3 ligases that are crucial for ICL repair.
The genetic hallmark of Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is the t(8;14)(q24;q32) and its variants leading to activation of the MYC oncogene. It is a matter of debate whether true BL without MYC translocation exists. Here, we identified 59 lymphomas concordantly called BL by 2 gene expression classifiers among 753 B-cell lymphomas. Only 2 (3%) of these 59 molecular BL lacked a MYC translocation, which both shared a peculiar pattern of chromosome 11q aberration characterized by interstitial gains including 11q23.2-q23.3 and telomeric losses of 11q24.1-qter. We extended our analysis to 17 MYC-negative high-grade B-cell lymphomas with a similar 11q aberration and showed this aberration to be recurrently associated with morphologic and clinical features of BL. The minimal region of gain was defined by high-level amplifications in 11q23.3 and associated with overexpression of genes including PAFAH1B2 on a transcriptional and protein level. The recurrent region of loss contained a focal homozygous deletion in 11q24.2-q24.3 including the ETS1 gene, which was shown to be mutated in 4 of 16 investigated cases. These findings indicate the existence of a molecularly distinct subset of B-cell lymphomas reminiscent of BL, which is characterized by deregulation of genes in 11q.
The ERCC4 protein forms a structure-specific endonuclease involved in the DNA damage response. Different cancer syndromes such as a subtype of Xeroderma pigmentosum, XPF, and recently a subtype of Fanconi Anemia, FA-Q, have been attributed to biallelic ERCC4 gene mutations. To investigate whether monoallelic ERCC4 gene defects play some role in the inherited component of breast cancer susceptibility, we sequenced the whole ERCC4 coding region and flanking untranslated portions in a series of 101 Byelorussian and German breast cancer patients selected for familial disease (set 1, n?=?63) or for the presence of the rs1800067 risk haplotype (set 2, n?=?38). This study confirmed six known and one novel exonic variants, including four missense substitutions but no truncating mutation. Missense substitution p.R415Q (rs1800067), a previously postulated breast cancer susceptibility allele, was subsequently screened for in a total of 3,698 breast cancer cases and 2,868 controls from Germany, Belarus or Russia. The Gln415 allele appeared protective against breast cancer in the German series, with the strongest effect for ductal histology (OR 0.67; 95%CI 0.49; 0.92; p?=?0.003), but this association was not confirmed in the other two series, with the combined analysis yielding an overall Mantel-Haenszel OR of 0.94 (95% CI 0.81; 1.08). There was no significant effect of p.R415Q on breast cancer survival in the German patient series. The other three detected ERCC4 missense mutations included two known rare variants as well as a novel substitution, p.E17V, that we identified on a p.R415Q haplotype background. The p.E17V mutation is predicted to be probably damaging but was present in just one heterozygous patient. We conclude that the contribution of ERCC4/FANCQ coding mutations to hereditary breast cancer in Central and Eastern Europe is likely to be small.
Faithful chromosome segregation is required for preserving genomic integrity. Failure of this process may entail chromatin bridges preventing normal cytokinesis. To test whether RAD50, a protein normally involved in DNA double-strand break repair, is involved in abnormal cytokinesis and formation of chromatin bridges, we used immunocytochemical and protein interaction assays. RAD50 localizes to chromatin bridges during aberrant cytokinesis and subsequent stages of the cell cycle, either decorating the entire bridge or focally accumulating at the midbody zone. Ionizing radiation led to an ?4-fold increase in the rate of chromatin bridges in an ataxia telangiectatica mutated (ATM)-dependent manner in human RAD50-proficient fibroblasts but not in RAD50-deficient cells. Cells with a RAD50-positive chromatin bridge were able to continue cell cycling and to progress through S phase (44%), whereas RAD50 knockdown caused a deficiency in chromatin bridges as well as an ?4-fold prolonged duration of mitosis. RAD50 colocalized and directly interacted with Aurora B kinase and phospho-histone H3, and Aurora B kinase inhibition led to a deficiency in RAD50-positive bridges. Based on these observations, we propose that RAD50 is a crucial factor for the stabilization and shielding of chromatin bridges. Our study provides evidence for a hitherto unknown role of RAD50 in abnormal cytokinesis.-Schröder-Heurich, B., Wieland, B., Lavin, M. F., Schindler, D., Dörk, T. Protective role of RAD50 on chromatin bridges during abnormal cytokinesis.
The Mre11/Rad50/Nbs1 (MRN) complex initiates and coordinates DNA repair and signaling events at double-strand breaks. The interaction between MRN and DNA ends is critical for the recruitment of DNA-processing enzymes, end tethering, and activation of the ATM protein kinase. Here we visualized MRN binding to duplex DNA molecules using single-molecule FRET, and found that MRN unwinds 15-20 base pairs at the end of the duplex, holding the branched structure open for minutes at a time in an ATP-dependent reaction. A Rad50 catalytic domain mutant that is specifically deficient in this ATP-dependent opening is impaired in DNA end resection in vitro and in resection-dependent repair of breaks in human cells, demonstrating the importance of MRN-generated single strands in the repair of DNA breaks.
Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is a rare neurodevelopmental disease with severe microcephaly at birth due to a pronounced reduction in brain volume and intellectual disability. Biallelic mutations in the WD repeat-containing protein 62 gene WDR62 are the genetic cause of MCPH2. However, the exact underlying pathomechanism of MCPH2 remains to be clarified.Methods/results: We characterized the clinical, radiological, and cellular features that add to the human MCPH2 phenotype. Exome sequencing followed by Sanger sequencing in a German family with two affected daughters with primary microcephaly revealed in the index patient the compound heterozygous mutations c.1313G>A (p.R438H) / c.2864-2867delACAG (p.D955Afs*112) of WDR62, the second of which is novel. Radiological examination displayed small frontal lobes, corpus callosum hypoplasia, simplified hippocampal gyration, and cerebellar hypoplasia. We investigated the cellular phenotype in patient-derived lymphoblastoid cells and compared it with that of healthy female controls. WDR62 expression in the patients immortalized lymphocytes was deranged, and mitotic spindle defects as well as abnormal centrosomal protein localization were apparent.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is an inherited bone marrow failure syndrome due to defective DNA inter-strand cross-link repair. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is curative for pancytopenia, but may not prevent the development of non-hematological malignancies. We describe a 26-year-old male patient with FA and Marfan syndrome who in 1994 underwent successful HSCT with bone marrow stem cells from his human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-identical sister. In 2006, three lesions in the liver were detected and resected. The three lesions all showed activation of the ?-catenin pathway and were histologically characterized by a highly differentiated steatotic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with remnants of the underlying adenoma from which it arose, a hepatocellular adenoma with foci of well-differentiated HCC, and a cholestatic adenoma. Risk factors for the emergence of HCC included FA itself, the use of androgens for a period of 3 years preceding HSCT and toxicity of the conditioning regimen. Because of the danger of developing additional HCC, liver transplantation was proposed, taking into consideration that immunosuppression would increase the risk of other malignancies. By using part of the liver of the sister, who already acted as bone marrow donor 13 years earlier, immunosuppression could be avoided. Liver transplantation was performed in 2007 without complication. Five years after liver transplantation the patient is doing well. This case is twofold special being the first case reporting FA co-occurring with Marfan syndrome and being the first reported case of FA treated for HCC by liver transplantation from a HLA-identical sibling donor without the use of immunosuppression.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare genomic instability disorder characterized by progressive bone marrow failure and predisposition to cancer. FA-associated gene products are involved in the repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). Fifteen FA-associated genes have been identified, but the genetic basis in some individuals still remains unresolved. Here, we used whole-exome and Sanger sequencing on DNA of unclassified FA individuals and discovered biallelic germline mutations in ERCC4 (XPF), a structure-specific nuclease-encoding gene previously connected to xeroderma pigmentosum and segmental XFE progeroid syndrome. Genetic reversion and wild-type ERCC4 cDNA complemented the phenotype of the FA cell lines, providing genetic evidence that mutations in ERCC4 cause this FA subtype. Further biochemical and functional analysis demonstrated that the identified FA-causing ERCC4 mutations strongly disrupt the function of XPF in DNA ICL repair without severely compromising nucleotide excision repair. Our data show that depending on the type of ERCC4 mutation and the resulting balance between both DNA repair activities, individuals present with one of the three clinically distinct disorders, highlighting the multifunctional nature of the XPF endonuclease in genome stability and human disease.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetic disorder characterized by congenital abnormalities, bone marrow failure, and increased susceptibility to cancer. Of the fifteen FA proteins, Fanconi anemia group C (FANCC) is one of eight FA core complex components of the FA pathway. Unlike other FA core complex proteins, FANCC is mainly localized in the cytoplasm, where it is thought to function in apoptosis, redox regulation, cytokine signaling, and other processes. Previously, we showed that regulation of FANCC involved proteolytic processing during apoptosis. To elucidate the biological significance of this proteolytic modification, we searched for molecular interacting partners of proteolytic FANCC fragments. Among the candidates obtained, the transcriptional corepressor protein C-terminal binding protein-1 (CtBP1) interacted directly with FANCC and other FA core complex proteins. Although not required for stability of the FA core complex or ubiquitin ligase activity, CtBP1 is essential for proliferation, cell survival, and maintenance of chromosomal integrity. Expression profiling of CtBP1-depleted and FA-depleted cells revealed that several genes were commonly up- and down-regulated, including the Wnt antagonist Dickkopf-1 (DKK1). These findings suggest that FA and Wnt signaling via CtBP1 could share common effectors.
More than 90% of Fanconi anemia (FA) patients experience progressive bone marrow failure during life with a median onset at 8 years of age. As matched sibling donor transplantation as preferred treatment is not available for the majority of patients, several synthetic androgens have been used as short-term treatment options for the marrow failure in FA patients for more than 50 years. Here, we retrospectively collected data on eight FA patients who received danazol for the off-label treatment of their marrow failure at a starting dose of approximately 5mg/kg body weight/die. The hematological parameters at the initiation of treatment were hemoglobin (Hb) <8 g/dL and/or thrombocytes <30,000/?l. In 7 out of 8 FA patients, the values for both parameters rose on average >50% over the starting counts within 6 months and remained stable for up to 3 years despite careful reduction of the danazol dose per kg body weight. In 4 patients with a follow-up of 3 years, the platelets finally reached an average of 68,000/?L or 2.8 times over the starting values, while the Hb remained stable >11 g/dL. Danazol was reduced to 54% of the starting dose or 2.6 mg/kg/die. One FA-A patient with an unusually severe phenotype did not response with her PB counts to either danazol or oxymethalone within 6 months. None of the patients developed severe or unacceptable side-effects from the danazol treatment that led to the discontinuation of therapy. This initial description suggests that danazol might be an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for delaying the progressive marrow failure in FA patients for at least 3 years and longer.
Mutations in human MCPH1 (hMCPH1) cause primary microcephaly, which is characterized by a marked reduction of brain size. Interestingly, hMCPH1 mutant patient cells display unique cellular phenotypes, including premature chromosome condensation (PCC), in G2 phase. To test whether hMCPH1 might directly participate in the regulation of chromosome condensation and, if so, how, we developed a cell-free assay using Xenopus laevis egg extracts. Our results demonstrate that an N-terminal domain of hMCPH1 specifically inhibits the action of condensin II by competing for its chromosomal binding sites in vitro. This simple and powerful assay allows us to dissect mutations causing primary microcephaly in vivo and evolutionary substitutions among different species. A complementation assay using patient cells revealed that, whereas the N-terminal domain of hMCPH1 is sufficient to rescue the PCC phenotype, its central domain plays an auxiliary role in shaping metaphase chromosomes by physically interacting with condensin II. Thus, hMCPH1 acts as a composite modulator of condensin II to regulate chromosome condensation and shaping.
Primary autosomal recessive microcephaly (MCPH) is a congenital disorder characterized by a pronounced reduction of brain size and mental retardation. We present here a consanguineous Turkish family clinically diagnosed with MCPH and without linkage to any of the known loci (MCPH1-MCPH7). Autozygosity mapping identified a homozygous region of 15.8 Mb on chromosome 10q11.23-21.3, most likely representing a new locus for MCPH. Although we were unable to identify the underlying genetic defect after extensive molecular screening, we could delineate a possible molecular function in chromosome segregation by the characterization of mitosis in the patients cells. Analyses of chromosome nondisjunction in T-lymphocytes and fibroblasts revealed a significantly elevated rate of nondisjunction in the patients cells as compared to controls. Mitotic progression was further explored by immunofluorescence analyses of several chromosome and spindle associated proteins. We detected a remarkable alteration in the anaphase distribution of Aurora B and INCENP, which are key regulators of chromosome segregation. In particular, a fraction of both proteins remained abnormally loaded on chromosomes during anaphase in MCPH patients cells while in cells of normal control subjects both proteins are completely transferred to the spindle midzone. We did not observe any other alterations regarding cell cycle progression, chromosome structure, or response to DNA damage. Our observations point towards a molecular role of the underlying gene product in the regulation of anaphase/telophase progression possibly through interaction with chromosomal passenger proteins. In addition, our findings represent further evidence for the proposed role of MCPH genes in the regulation of mitotic progression.
The Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex plays a central role in coordinating the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks. The importance of Rad50 in that response is evident from the recent description of a patient with Rad50 deficiency characterized by chromosomal instability and defective ATM-dependent signaling. We report here that ATM (defective in ataxia-telangiectasia) phosphorylates Rad50 at a single site (Ser-635) that plays an important adaptor role in signaling for cell cycle control and DNA repair. Although a Rad50 phosphosite-specific mutant (S635G) supported normal activation of ATM in Rad50-deficient cells, it was defective in correcting DNA damage-induced signaling through the ATM-dependent substrate SMC1. This mutant also failed to correct radiosensitivity, DNA double-strand break repair, and an S-phase checkpoint defect in Rad50-deficient cells. This was not due to disruption of the Mre11/Rad50/NBN complex revealing for the first time that phosphorylation of Rad50 plays a key regulatory role as an adaptor for specific ATM-dependent downstream signaling through SMC1 for DNA repair and cell cycle checkpoint control in the maintenance of genome integrity.
SLX4 coordinates three structure-specific endonucleases in the DNA damage response. One subtype of Fanconi anaemia, FA-P, has recently been attributed to biallelic SLX4 gene mutations. To investigate whether monoallelic SLX4 gene defects play some role in the inherited component of breast cancer susceptibility, in this study we resequenced the whole SLX4 coding region and flanking untranslated sections in genomic DNA samples obtained from a total of 52 German or Byelorussian patients with familial breast cancer. Selected variants were subsequently screened by RFLP or TaqMan-based assays in an extended set of 965 German breast cancer cases and 985 healthy female controls. The resequencing study uncovered four new SLX4 missense substitutions, each of them in a single breast cancer patient. Three missense substitutions (p.V197A, p.G700R and p.R1034H) were not found in a subsequent screening of 240 additional breast cancer patients, while one missense substitution (p.R237Q) was more common and was detected in a total of 12 cases (1.3%) and seven controls (0.7%) in the Hannover breast cancer study. The rare missense substitution, p.G700R, resides in the conserved BTB domain and was in silico predicted to be pathogenic. Seven additional missense polymorphisms were correlated and formed one haplotype which was, however, neither associated with breast cancer risk nor with survival from breast cancer. In summary, this study did not reveal truncating or clearly pathogenic mutations, but unravelled four new unclassified missense variants at a low frequency. We conclude that there is no evidence for a major role of SLX4 coding variants in the inherited susceptibility towards breast cancer in German and Byelorussian patients, although very rare mutations such as the p.G700R substitution could make a minor contribution.
Ataxia telangiectasia (AT) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by cerebellar degeneration, immunodeficiency, oculocutaneous telangiectasias, chromosomal instability, radiosensitivity, and cancer predisposition. The gene mutated in the patients, ATM, encodes a member of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase family proteins. The ATM protein has a key role in the cellular response to DNA damage. Truncating and splice site mutations in ATM have been found in most patients with the classical AT phenotype. Here we report of our extensive ATM mutation screening on 25 AT patients from 19 families of different ethnic origin. Previously unknown mutations were identified in six patients including a new homozygous missense mutation, c.8110T>C (p.Cys2704Arg), in a severely affected patient. Comprehensive clinical data are presented for all patients described here along with data on ATM function generated by analysis of cell lines established from a subset of the patients.
A 9-year-old girl born to healthy parents showed manifestations suggestive of ataxia telangiectasia (AT), such as short stature, sudden short bouts of horizontal and rotary nystagmus, a weak and dysarthric voice, rolling gait, unstable posture, and atactic movements. She did not show several cardinal features typical of AT such as frequent, severe infections of the respiratory tract. In contrast, she showed symptoms not generally related to AT, including microcephaly, profound motor and mental retardation, small hands and feet, severely and progressively reduced muscle tone with slackly protruding abdomen and undue drooling, excess fat on her upper arms, and severe oligoarthritis. A cranial MRI showed no cerebellar hypoplasia and other abnormalities. In peripheral blood samples she carried a de novo duplication of 3.14 Mb in chromosomal region 19q12 containing six annotated genes, UQCRFS1, VSTM2B, POP4, PLEKHF1, CCNE1, and ZNF536, and a de novo mosaic inversion 14q11q32 (96% of metaphases). In a saliva-derived DNA sample only the duplication in 19q12 was detected, suggesting that the rearrangements in blood lymphocytes were acquired. These findings reinforced the suspicion that she had AT. AT was confirmed by strongly elevated serum AFP levels, cellular radiosensitivity and two inherited mutations in the ATM gene (c.510_511delGT; paternal origin and c.2922-50_2940del69; maternal origin). This case suggest that a defective ATM-dependent DNA damage response may entail additional stochastic genomic rearrangements. Screening for genomic rearrangements appears indicated in patients suspected of defective DNA damage responses.
The Fanconi anemia (FA) gene family is a recent addition to the complex network of proteins that respond to and repair certain types of DNA damage in the human genome. Since little is known about the regulation of this novel group of genes at the DNA level, we characterized the promoters of the eight genes (FANCA, B, C, E, F, G, L and M) that compose the FA core complex. The promoters of these genes show the characteristic attributes of housekeeping genes, such as a high GC content and CpG islands, a lack of TATA boxes and a low conservation. The promoters functioned in a monodirectional way and were, in their most active regions, comparable in strength to the SV40 promoter in our reporter plasmids. They were also marked by a distinctive transcriptional start site (TSS). In the 5 region of each promoter, we identified a region that was able to negatively regulate the promoter activity in HeLa and HEK 293 cells in isolation. The central and 3 regions of the promoter sequences harbor binding sites for several common and rare transcription factors, including STAT, SMAD, E2F, AP1 and YY1, which indicates that there may be cross-connections to several established regulatory pathways. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and siRNA experiments confirmed the shared regulatory responses between the prominent members of the TGF-? and JAK/STAT pathways and members of the FA core complex. Although the promoters are not well conserved, they share region and sequence specific regulatory motifs and transcription factor binding sites (TBFs), and we identified a bi-partite nature to these promoters. These results support a hypothesis based on the co-evolution of the FA core complex genes that was expanded to include their promoters.
Mild mutations in BRCA2 (FANCD1) cause Fanconi anemia (FA) when homozygous, while severe mutations cause common cancers including breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers when heterozygous. Here we report a zebrafish brca2 insertional mutant that shares phenotypes with human patients and identifies a novel brca2 function in oogenesis. Experiments showed that mutant embryos and mutant cells in culture experienced genome instability, as do cells in FA patients. In wild-type zebrafish, meiotic cells expressed brca2; and, unexpectedly, transcripts in oocytes localized asymmetrically to the animal pole. In juvenile brca2 mutants, oocytes failed to progress through meiosis, leading to female-to-male sex reversal. Adult mutants became sterile males due to the meiotic arrest of spermatocytes, which then died by apoptosis, followed by neoplastic proliferation of gonad somatic cells that was similar to neoplasia observed in ageing dead end (dnd)-knockdown males, which lack germ cells. The construction of animals doubly mutant for brca2 and the apoptotic gene tp53 (p53) rescued brca2-dependent sex reversal. Double mutants developed oocytes and became sterile females that produced only aberrant embryos and showed elevated risk for invasive ovarian tumors. Oocytes in double-mutant females showed normal localization of brca2 and pou5f1 transcripts to the animal pole and vasa transcripts to the vegetal pole, but had a polarized rather than symmetrical nucleus with the distribution of nucleoli and chromosomes to opposite nuclear poles; this result revealed a novel role for Brca2 in establishing or maintaining oocyte nuclear architecture. Mutating tp53 did not rescue the infertility phenotype in brca2 mutant males, suggesting that brca2 plays an essential role in zebrafish spermatogenesis. Overall, this work verified zebrafish as a model for the role of Brca2 in human disease and uncovered a novel function of Brca2 in vertebrate oocyte nuclear architecture.
Proteins encoded by Fanconi anemia (FA) and/or breast cancer (BrCa) susceptibility genes cooperate in a common DNA damage repair signaling pathway. To gain deeper insight into this pathway and its influence on cancer risk, we searched for novel components through protein physical interaction screens.
Fanconi anemia is characterized by congenital abnormalities, bone marrow failure, and cancer predisposition. To investigate the origin, functional role, and clinical impact of FANCA mutations, we determined a FANCA mutational spectrum with 130 pathogenic alleles. Some of these mutations were further characterized for their distribution in populations, mode of emergence, or functional consequences at cellular and clinical level. The world most frequent FANCA mutation is not the result of a mutational "hot-spot" but results from worldwide dissemination of an ancestral Indo-European mutation. We provide molecular evidence that total absence of FANCA in humans does not reduce embryonic viability, as the observed frequency of mutation carriers in the Gypsy population equals the expected by Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. We also prove that long distance Alu-Alu recombination can cause Fanconi anemia by originating large interstitial deletions involving FANCA and 2 adjacent genes. Finally, we show that all missense mutations studied lead to an altered FANCA protein that is unable to relocate to the nucleus and activate the FA/BRCA pathway. This may explain the observed lack of correlation between type of FANCA mutation and cellular phenotype or clinical severity in terms of age of onset of hematologic disease or number of malformations.
DNA interstrand crosslink repair requires several classes of proteins, including structure-specific endonucleases and Fanconi anemia proteins. SLX4, which coordinates three separate endonucleases, was recently recognized as an important regulator of DNA repair. Here we report the first human individuals found to have biallelic mutations in SLX4. These individuals, who were previously diagnosed as having Fanconi anemia, add SLX4 as an essential component to the FA-BRCA genome maintenance pathway.
Hepatoblastoma was diagnosed in a 4-year-old girl receiving growth hormone substitution therapy for short stature. Owing to multiple congenital malformations, VACTERL-H (vertebral, anal, cardiac, tracheal, renal and limb anomalies with hydrocephalus) association had been suggested. Elevated chromosomal breakage rates and G2 phase arrest induced by DNA-crosslinking agents in cellular assays confirmed the diagnosis of Fanconi anaemia (FA), a tumour susceptibility syndrome known to be associated with hepatocellular carcinoma following androgen therapy. Subsequent genotyping revealed biallelic mutations in the FANCD1/BRCA2 gene.
Mutations in the MCPH1 gene cause primary microcephaly associated with a unique cellular phenotype of misregulated chromosome condensation. The encoded protein contains three BRCT domains, and accumulating data show that MCPH1 is involved in the DNA damage response. However, most of this evidence has been generated by experiments using RNA interference (RNAi) and cells from non-human model organisms. Here, we demonstrate that patient-derived cell lines display a proficient G2/M checkpoint following ionizing irradiation (IR) despite homozygous truncating mutations in MCPH1. Moreover, chromosomal breakage rates and the relocation to DNA repair foci of several proteins functioning putatively in an MCPH1-dependent manner are normal in these cells. However, the MCPH1-deficient cells exhibit a slight delay in re-entering mitosis and delayed resolution of ?H2AX foci following IR. Analysis of chromosome condensation behavior following IR suggests that these latter observations may be related to hypercondensation of the chromatin in cells with MCPH1 mutations. Our results indicate that the DNA damage response in human cells with truncating MCPH1 mutations differs significantly from the damage responses in cells of certain model organisms and in cells depleted of MCPH1 by RNAi. These subtle effects of human MCPH1 deficiency on the cellular DNA damage response may explain the absence of cancer predisposition in patients with biallelic MCPH1 mutations.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare familial genome instability syndrome caused by mutations in FA genes that results in defective DNA crosslink repair. Activation of the FA pathway requires the FA core ubiquitin ligase complex-dependent monoubiquitination of 2 interacting FA proteins, FANCI and FANCD2. Although loss of either FANCI or FANCD2 is known to prevent monoubiquitination of its respective partner, it is unclear whether FANCI has any additional domains that may be important in promoting DNA repair, independent of its monoubiquitination. Here, we focus on an FA-I patient-derived FANCI mutant protein, R1299X (deletion of 30 residues from its C-terminus), to characterize important structural region(s) in FANCI that is required to activate the FA pathway. We show that, within this short 30 amino acid stretch contains 2 separable functional signatures, a nuclear localization signal and a putative EDGE motif, that is critical for the ability of FANCI to properly monoubiquitinate FANCD2 and promote DNA crosslink resistance. Our study enable us to conclude that, although proper nuclear localization of FANCI is crucial for robust FANCD2 monoubiquitination, the putative FANCI EDGE motif is important for DNA crosslink repair.
We have previously shown that mutations in the genes encoding DNA Ligase IV (LIGIV) and RAD50, involved in DNA repair by nonhomologous-end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination, respectively, lead to clinical and cellular features similar to those of Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome (NBS). Very recently, a new member of the NHEJ repair pathway, NHEJ1, was discovered, and mutations in patients with features resembling NBS were described. Here we report on five patients from four families of different ethnic origin with the NBS-like phenotype. Sequence analysis of the NHEJ1 gene in a patient of Spanish and in a patient of Turkish origin identified homozygous, previously reported mutations, c.168C>G (p.Arg57Gly) and c.532C>T (p.Arg178Ter), respectively. Two novel, paternally inherited truncating mutations, c.495dupA (p.Asp166ArgfsTer20) and c.526C>T (p.Arg176Ter) and two novel, maternal genomic deletions of 1.9 and 6.9 kb of the NHEJ1 gene, were found in a compound heterozygous state in two siblings of German origin and in one Malaysian patient, respectively. Our findings confirm that patients with NBS-like phenotypes may have mutations in the NHEJ1 gene including multiexon deletions, and show that considerable clinical variability could be observed even within the same family.
The U1 small nuclear RNA (U1 snRNA) as a component of the major U2-dependent spliceosome recognizes 5 splice sites (5ss) containing GT as the canonical dinucleotide in the intronic positions +1 and +2. The c.165+1G>T germline mutation in the 5ss of exon 2 of the Fanconi anemia C (FANCC) gene commonly predicted to prevent correct splicing was identified in nine FA patients from three pedigrees. RT-PCR analysis of the endogenous FANCC mRNA splicing pattern of patient-derived fibroblasts revealed aberrant mRNA processing, but surprisingly also correct splicing at the TT dinucleotide, albeit with lower efficiency. This consequently resulted in low levels of correctly spliced transcript and minute levels of normal posttranslationally processed FANCD2 protein, indicating that this naturally occurring TT splicing might contribute to the milder clinical manifestations of the disease in these patients. Functional analysis of this FANCC 5ss within splicing reporters revealed that both the noncanonical TT dinucleotide and the genomic context of FANCC were required for the residual correct splicing at this mutant 5ss. Finally, use of lentiviral vectors as a delivery system to introduce expression cassettes for TT-adapted U1 snRNAs into primary FANCC patient fibroblasts allowed the correction of the DNA-damage-induced G2 cell-cycle arrest in these cells, thus representing an alternative transcript-targeting approach for genetic therapy of inherited splice-site mutations.
Inactivation of the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway through defects in one of 13 FA genes occurs at low frequency in various solid cancer entities among the general population. As FA pathway inactivation confers a distinct hypersensitivity towards DNA interstrand-crosslinking (ICL)-agents, FA defects represent rational targets for individualized therapeutic strategies. Except for pancreatic cancer, however, the prevalence of FA defects in gastrointestinal (GI) tumors has not yet been systematically explored.
Germline mutations in a number of genes involved in the recombinational repair of DNA double-strand breaks are associated with predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. RAD51C is essential for homologous recombination repair, and a biallelic missense mutation can cause a Fanconi anemia-like phenotype. In index cases from 1,100 German families with gynecological malignancies, we identified six monoallelic pathogenic mutations in RAD51C that confer an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. These include two frameshift-causing insertions, two splice-site mutations and two nonfunctional missense mutations. The mutations were found exclusively within 480 pedigrees with the occurrence of both breast and ovarian tumors (BC/OC; 1.3%) and not in 620 pedigrees with breast cancer only or in 2,912 healthy German controls. These results provide the first unambiguous evidence of highly penetrant mutations associated with human cancer in a RAD51 paralog and support the common disease, rare allele hypothesis.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare chromosomal-instability disorder associated with a variety of developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure and predisposition to leukemia and other cancers. We have identified a homozygous missense mutation in the RAD51C gene in a consanguineous family with multiple severe congenital abnormalities characteristic of FA. RAD51C is a member of the RAD51-like gene family involved in homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair. The mutation results in loss of RAD51 focus formation in response to DNA damage and in increased cellular sensitivity to the DNA interstrand cross-linking agent mitomycin C and the topoisomerase-1 inhibitor camptothecin. Thus, biallelic germline mutations in a RAD51 paralog are associated with an FA-like syndrome.
Mutations in the human gene MCPH1 cause primary microcephaly associated with a unique cellular phenotype with premature chromosome condensation (PCC) in early G2 phase and delayed decondensation post-mitosis (PCC syndrome). The gene encodes the BRCT-domain containing protein microcephalin/BRIT1. Apart from its role in the regulation of chromosome condensation, the protein is involved in the cellular response to DNA damage. We report here on the first mouse model of impaired Mcph1-function. The model was established based on an embryonic stem cell line from BayGenomics (RR0608) containing a gene trap in intron 12 of the Mcph1 gene deleting the C-terminal BRCT-domain of the protein. Although residual wild type allele can be detected by quantitative real-time PCR cell cultures generated from mouse tissues bearing the homozygous gene trap mutation display the cellular phenotype of misregulated chromosome condensation that is characteristic for the human disorder, confirming defective Mcph1 function due to the gene trap mutation. While surprisingly the DNA damage response (formation of repair foci, chromosomal breakage, and G2/M checkpoint function after irradiation) appears to be largely normal in cell cultures derived from Mcph1(gt/gt) mice, the overall survival rates of the Mcph1(gt/gt) animals are significantly reduced compared to wild type and heterozygous mice. However, we could not detect clear signs of premature malignant disease development due to the perturbed Mcph1 function. Moreover, the animals show no obvious physical phenotype and no reduced fertility. Body and brain size are within the range of wild type controls. Gene expression on RNA and protein level did not reveal any specific pattern of differentially regulated genes. To the best of our knowledge this represents the first mammalian transgenic model displaying a defect in mitotic chromosome condensation and is also the first mouse model for impaired Mcph1-function.
FANCM remodels branched DNA structures and plays essential roles in the cellular response to DNA replication stress. Here, we show that FANCM forms a conserved DNA-remodeling complex with a histone-fold heterodimer, MHF. We find that MHF stimulates DNA binding and replication fork remodeling by FANCM. In the cell, FANCM and MHF are rapidly recruited to forks stalled by DNA interstrand crosslinks, and both are required for cellular resistance to such lesions. In vertebrates, FANCM-MHF associates with the Fanconi anemia (FA) core complex, promotes FANCD2 monoubiquitination in response to DNA damage, and suppresses sister-chromatid exchanges. Yeast orthologs of these proteins function together to resist MMS-induced DNA damage and promote gene conversion at blocked replication forks. Thus, FANCM-MHF is an essential DNA-remodeling complex that protects replication forks from yeast to human.
Although still incomplete, we now have a remarkably detailed and nuanced picture of both phenotypic and genotypic components of the FA spectrum. Initially described as a combination of pancytopenia with a limited number of physical anomalies, it was later recognized that additional features were compatible with the FA phenotype, including a form without detectable malformations (Estren-Dameshek variant). The discovery of somatic mosaicism extended the boundaries of the FA phenotype to cases even without any overt hematological manifestations. This clinical heterogeneity was augmented by new conceptualizations. There was the realization of a constant risk for the development of myelodysplasia and certain malignancies, including acute myelogenous leukemia and squamous cell carcinoma, and there was the emergence of a distinctive cellular phenotype. A striking degree of genetic heterogeneity became apparent with the delineation of at least 12 complementation groups and the identification of their underlying genes. Although functional genetic insights have fostered the interpretation of many phenotypic features, surprisingly few stringent genotype-phenotype connections have emerged. In addition to myriad genetic alterations, less predictable influences are likely to modulate the FA phenotype, including modifier genes, environmental factors and chance effects. In reviewing the current status of genotype-phenotype correlations, we arrive at a unifying hypothesis to explain the remarkably wide range of FA phenotypes. Given the large body of evidence that genomic instability is a major underlying mechanism of accelerated ageing phenotypes, we propose that the numerous FA variants can be viewed as differential modulations and compression in time of intrinsic biological ageing.
The MRE11/RAD50/NBN (MRN) complex plays a key role in recognizing and signaling DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Hypomorphic mutations in NBN (previously known as NBS1) and MRE11A give rise to the autosomal-recessive diseases Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS) and ataxia-telangiectasia-like disorder (ATLD), respectively. To date, no disease due to RAD50 deficiency has been described. Here, we report on a patient previously diagnosed as probably having NBS, with microcephaly, mental retardation, bird-like face, and short stature. At variance with this diagnosis, she never had severe infections, had normal immunoglobulin levels, and did not develop lymphoid malignancy up to age 23 years. We found that she is compound heterozygous for mutations in the RAD50 gene that give rise to low levels of unstable RAD50 protein. Cells from the patient were characterized by chromosomal instability; radiosensitivity; failure to form DNA damage-induced MRN foci; and impaired radiation-induced activation of and downstream signaling through the ATM protein, which is defective in the human genetic disorder ataxia-telangiectasia. These cells were also impaired in G1/S cell-cycle-checkpoint activation and displayed radioresistant DNA synthesis and G2-phase accumulation. The defective cellular phenotype was rescued by wild-type RAD50. In conclusion, we have identified and characterized a patient with a RAD50 deficiency that results in a clinical phenotype that can be classified as an NBS-like disorder (NBSLD).
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare genomic instability syndrome. Disease-causing are biallelic mutations in any one of at least 15 genes encoding members of the FA/BRCA pathway of DNA-interstrand crosslink repair. Patients are diagnosed based upon phenotypical manifestations and the diagnosis of FA is confirmed by the hypersensitivity of cells to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents. Customary molecular diagnostics has become increasingly cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive the more FA genes have been identified. We performed Whole Exome Sequencing (WES) in four FA patients in order to investigate the potential of this method for FA genotyping. In search of an optimal WES methodology we explored different enrichment and sequencing techniques. In each case we were able to identify the pathogenic mutations so that WES provided both, complementation group assignment and mutation detection in a single approach. The mutations included homozygous and heterozygous single base pair substitutions and a two-base-pair duplication in FANCJ, -D1, or -D2. Different WES strategies had no critical influence on the individual outcome. However, database errors and in particular pseudogenes impose obstacles that may prevent correct data perception and interpretation, and thus cause pitfalls. With these difficulties in mind, our results show that WES is a valuable tool for the molecular diagnosis of FA and a sufficiently safe technique, capable of engaging increasingly in competition with classical genetic approaches.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by congenital malformations, progressive bone marrow failure (BMF), and susceptibility to malignancies. FA is caused by biallelic or hemizygous mutations in one of 15 known FA genes, whose products are involved in the FA/BRCA DNA damage response pathway. Here, we report on a patient with previously unknown mutations of the most recently identified FA gene, SLX4/FANCP. Whole exome sequencing (WES) revealed a nonsense mutation and an unusual splice site mutation resulting in the partial replacement of exonic with intronic bases, thereby removing a nuclear localization signal. Immunoblotting detected no residual SLX4 protein, which was consistent with abrogated interactions with XPF/ERCC1 and MUS81/EME1. This cellular finding did not result in a more severe clinical phenotype than that of previously reported FA-P patients. Our study additionally exemplifies the versatility of WES for the detection of mutations in heterogenic disorders such as FA.
Biallelic mutations in MCPH1 cause primary microcephaly (MCPH) with the cellular phenotype of defective chromosome condensation. MCPH1 encodes a multifunctional protein that notably is involved in brain development, regulation of chromosome condensation, and DNA damage response. In the present studies, we detected that MCPH1 encodes several distinct transcripts, including two major forms: full-length MCPH1 (MCPH1-FL) and a second transcript lacking the six 3 exons (MCPH1?e9-14). Both variants show comparable tissue-specific expression patterns, demonstrate nuclear localization that is mediated independently via separate NLS motifs, and are more abundant in certain fetal than adult organs. In addition, the expression of either isoform complements the chromosome condensation defect found in genetically MCPH1-deficient or MCPH1 siRNA-depleted cells, demonstrating a redundancy of both MCPH1 isoforms for the regulation of chromosome condensation. Strikingly however, both transcripts are regulated antagonistically during cell-cycle progression and there are functional differences between the isoforms with regard to the DNA damage response; MCPH1-FL localizes to phosphorylated H2AX repair foci following ionizing irradiation, while MCPH1?e9-14 was evenly distributed in the nucleus. In summary, our results demonstrate here that MCPH1 encodes different isoforms that are differentially regulated at the transcript level and have different functions at the protein level.
The recessive genetic disorder Fanconi anemia (FA) is clinically characterized by congenital defects, bone marrow failure and an increased incidence of cancer. Cells derived from FA patients exhibit hypersensitivity to DNA interstrand crosslink (ICL)-inducing agents. We have earlier reported a similar cellular phenotype for human cells depleted of hSNM1B/Apollo (siRNA). In fact, hSNM1B/Apollo has a dual role in the DNA damage response and in generation and maintenance of telomeres, the latter function involving interaction with the shelterin protein TRF2. Here we find that ectopically expressed hSNM1B/Apollo co-immunoprecipitates with SLX4, a protein recently identified as a new FA protein, FANCP, and known to interact with several structure-specific nucleases. As shown by immunofluorescence analysis, FANCP/SLX4 depletion (siRNA) resulted in a significant reduction of hSNM1B/Apollo nuclear foci, supporting the functional relevance of this new protein interaction. Interestingly, as an additional consequence of FANCP/SLX4 depletion, we found a reduction of cellular TRF2, in line with its telomere-related function. Finally, analysis of human cells following double knockdown of hSNM1B/Apollo and FANCP/SLX4 indicated that they function epistatically. These findings further substantiate the role of hSNM1B/Apollo in a downstream step of the FA pathway during the repair of DNA ICLs.
The Fanconi anemia (FA) protein network is necessary for repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs), but its control mechanism remains unclear. Here we show that the network is regulated by a ubiquitin signaling cascade initiated by RNF8 and its partner, UBC13, and mediated by FAAP20, a component of the FA core complex. FAAP20 preferentially binds the ubiquitin product of RNF8-UBC13, and this ubiquitin-binding activity and RNF8-UBC13 are both required for recruitment of FAAP20 to ICLs. Both RNF8 and FAAP20 are required for recruitment of FA core complex and FANCD2 to ICLs, whereas RNF168 can modulate efficiency of the recruitment. RNF8 and FAAP20 are needed for efficient FANCD2 monoubiquitination, a key step of the FA network; RNF8 and the FA core complex work in the same pathway to promote cellular resistance to ICLs. Thus, the RNF8-FAAP20 ubiquitin cascade is critical for recruiting FA core complex to ICLs and for normal function of the FA network.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a rare bone marrow failure disorder with defective DNA interstrand crosslink repair. Still, there are FA patients without mutations in any of the 15 genes individually underlying the disease. A candidate protein for those patients, FA nuclease 1 (FAN1), whose gene is located at chromosome 15q13.3, is recruited to stalled replication forks by binding to monoubiquitinated FANCD2 and is required for interstrand crosslink repair, suggesting that mutation of FAN1 may cause FA. Here we studied clinical, cellular, and genetic features in 4 patients carrying a homozygous 15q13.3 micro-deletion, including FAN1 and 6 additional genes. Biallelic deletion of the entire FAN1 gene was confirmed by failure of 3- and 5-PCR amplification. Western blot analysis failed to show FAN1 protein in the patients cell lines. Chromosome fragility was normal in all 4 FAN1-deficient patients, although their cells showed mild sensitivity to mitomycin C in terms of cell survival and G(2) phase arrest, dissimilar in degree to FA cells. Clinically, there were no symptoms pointing the way to FA. Our results suggest that FAN1 has a minor role in interstrand crosslink repair compared with true FA genes and exclude FAN1 as a novel FA gene.
RAD51C was defined by Meindl et al. in 2010 as a high-risk gene involved in hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Although this role seems to be clear, nowadays there is controversy about the indication of including the gene in routine clinical genetic testing, due to the lower prevalence or the absence of mutations found in subsequent studies. Here, we present the results of a comprehensive mutational screening of the RAD51C gene in a large series of 785 Spanish breast and/or ovarian cancer families, which, in contrast to the various subsequent studies published to date, includes the functional characterization of suspicious missense variants as reported in the initial study. We have detected 1.3% mutations of RAD51C in breast and ovarian cancer families, while mutations in breast cancer only families seem to be very rare. More than half of the deleterious variants detected were of missense type, which highlights their significance in the gene, and suggest that RAD51C mutations may have been so far partially disregarded and their prevalence underestimated due to the lack of functional complementation assays. Our results provide new evidences, suggesting that the genetic testing of RAD51C should be considered for inclusion into the clinical setting, at least for breast and ovarian cancer families, and encourage re-evaluating its role incorporating functional assays.
Genes that, when mutated, cause Fanconi anemia or greatly increase breast cancer risk encode for proteins that converge on a homology-directed DNA damage repair process. Mutations in the SLX4 gene, which encodes for a scaffold protein involved in the repair of interstrand cross-links, have recently been identified in unclassified Fanconi anemia patients. A mutation analysis of SLX4 in German or Byelorussian familial cases of breast cancer without detected mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 has been completed, with globally negative results.
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