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PIF1 disruption or NBS1 hypomorphism does not affect chromosome healing or fusion resulting from double-strand breaks near telomeres in murine embryonic stem cells.

Reynolds GE, Gao Q, Miller D, Snow BE, Harrington LA, Murnane JP

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California San Francisco, 2340 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94143-1331, United States.

Telomerase serves to maintain telomeric repeat sequences at the ends of chromosomes. However, telomerase can also add telomeric repeat sequences at DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), a process called chromosome healing. Here, we employed a method of inducing DSBs near telomeres to query the role of two proteins, PIF1 and NBS1, in chromosome healing in mammalian cells. PIF1 was investigated because the PIF1 homolog in Saccharomyces cerevisiae inhibits chromosome healing, as shown by a 1000-fold increase in chromosome in PIF1-deficient cells. NBS1 was investigated because the functional homolog of NBS1 in S. cerevisiae, Xrs2, is part of the Mre11/Rad50/Xrs2 complex that is required for chromosome healing due to its role in the processing of DSBs and recruitment of telomerase. We found that disruption of mPif1 had no detectable effect on the frequency of chromosome healing at DSBs near telomeres in murine embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the Nbs1(ΔB) hypomorph, which is defective in the processing of DSBs, also had no detectable effect on the frequency of chromosome healing, DNA degradation, or gross chromosome rearrangements (GCRs) that result from telomeric DSBs. Although we cannot rule out small changes in chromosome healing using this system, it is clear from our results that knockout of PIF1 or the Nbs1(ΔB) hypomorph does not result in large differences in chromosome healing in murine cells. These results represent the first genetic assessment of the role of these proteins in chromosome healing in mammals, and suggest that murine cells have evolved mechanisms to ensure the functional redundancy of Pif1 or Nbs1 in the regulation of chromosome healing.

DNA Repair (Amst.) 2011;10(11):1164-73.

Pubmed ID: 21945094

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