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Werner syndrome (WS) is genetically linked to mutations in WRN that encodes a DNA helicase-nuclease believed to operate at stalled replication forks. Using a newly identified small molecule inhibitor of WRN helicase (NSC 617145), we investigated the role of WRN in the interstrand cross-link (ICL) response in cells derived from patients with Fanconi Anemia (FA), a hereditary disorder characterized by bone marrow failure and cancer. In FA-D2-/- cells, NSC 617145 acted synergistically with very low concentrations of Mitomycin C (MMC) to inhibit proliferation in a WRN-dependent manner, and induce double strand breaks (DSBs) and chromosomal abnormalities. Under these conditions, ATM activation and accumulation of DNA-PKcs pS2056 foci suggested an increased number of DSBs processed by nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ). Rad51 foci were also elevated in FA-D2-/- cells exposed to NSC 617145 and MMC, suggesting that WRN helicase inhibition interferes with later steps of homologous recombination (HR) at ICL-induced DSBs. Thus, when the FA pathway is defective, WRN helicase inhibition perturbs the normal ICL response, leading to NHEJ activation. Potential implication for treatment of FA-deficient tumors by their sensitization to DNA cross-linking agents is discussed.
PMID: 23867477 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]