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Lupari E.,Section of Molecular Epidemiology | Ventura I.,Section of Experimental and Computational Carcinogenesis | Marcon F.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | Aquilina G.,Section of Experimental and Computational Carcinogenesis | And 2 more authors.
DNA Repair | Year: 2012

To maintain genomic integrity cells have to respond properly to a variety of exogenous and endogenous sources of DNA damage. DNA integrity is maintained by the coordinated action of DNA damage response mechanisms and DNA repair. In addition, there are also mechanisms of damage tolerance, such as translesion synthesis (TLS), which are important for survival after DNA damage but are potentially error-prone. Here, we investigate the role of DNA polymerase κ (pol κ) in TLS across alkylated lesions by silencing this polymerase (pol) in human cells using transient small RNA interference. We show that human pol κ has a significant protective role against methyl nitrosourea (MNU)-associated cytotoxicity without affecting significantly mutagenicity. The increase in MNU-induced cytotoxicity when pol κ is down-regulated was affected by the levels of O 6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase and fully abolished when mismatch repair (MMR) was defective. Following MNU treatment, the cell cycle profile was unaffected by the pol κ status. The downregulation of pol κ caused a severe delay in the onset of the second mitosis that was fully dependent on the presence of O 6-methylguanine (O 6-meGua) lesions. After MNU exposure, in the absence of pol κ, the frequency of sister chromatid exchanges was unaffected whereas the induction of RAD 51 foci increased. We propose that pol κ partially protects human cells from the MMR-dependent cytotoxicity of O 6-meGua lesions by restoring the integrity of replicated duplexes containing single-stranded gaps generated opposite O 6-meGua facilitated by RAD 51 binding. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Murfuni I.,Section of Experimental and Computational Carcinogenesis | Nicolai S.,Section of Experimental and Computational Carcinogenesis | Baldari S.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | Crescenzi M.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | And 3 more authors.
Oncogene | Year: 2013

Oncogene-induced replication stress is recognized as the primary cause of accumulation of DNA damage and genome instability in precancerous cells. Although the molecular mechanisms responding to such type of replication perturbation are not fully characterized, it has been speculated that their dysfunction may enhance genome instability and accelerate tumor progression. Here, we show that the WRN protein, a member of the human RecQ helicases, is necessary to sustain replication fork progression in response to oncogene-induced replication stress. Loss of WRN affects cell cycle progression and results in enhanced accumulation of double-strand breaks and instability at common fragile sites in cells experiencing oncogene-induced replication stress. Moreover, we demonstrate that double-strand breaks, observed upon oncogene over-expression, depend on the MUS81 endonuclease, which represents a parallel pathway collaborating with WRN to prevent cell death. Overall, our findings give insights into the mechanisms protecting replication forks in cells experiencing oncogene-induced replication stress, and identify factors that, when mutated or dysfunctional, may enhance genome instability in precancerous cells. In addition, because concomitant depletion of WRN and MUS81 causes synthetic sickness in cells growing under oncogene-induced replication stress, our results support the possibility of targeting cancer cells with an impaired replication fork recovery pathway by a specific inactivation of the other parallel pathway. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

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