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A double-strand break repair defect in ATM-deficient cells contributes to radiosensitivity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 13:54 authored by M. Kuhne, E. Riballo, N. Rief, K. Rothkamm, Penny Jeggo, M. Lobrich
The ATM protein, which is mutated in individuals with ataxia telangiectasia (AT), is central to cell cycle checkpoint responses initiated by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). ATM's role in DSB repair is currently unclear as is the basis underlying the radiosensitivity of AT cells. We applied immunofluorescence detection of gamma-H2AX nuclear foci and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to quantify the repair of DSBs after X-ray doses between 0.02 and 80 Gy in confluence-arrested primary human fibroblasts from normal individuals and patients with mutations in ATM and DNA ligase IV, a core component of the nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) repair pathway. Cells with hypomorphic mutations in DNA ligase IV exhibit a substantial repair defect up to 24 h after treatment but continue to repair for several days and finally reach a level of unrepaired DSBs similar to that of wild-type cells. Additionally, the repair defect in NHEJ mutants is dose dependent. ATM-deficient cells, in contrast, repair the majority of DSBs with normal kinetics but fail to repair a subset of breaks, irrespective of the initial number of lesions induced. Significantly, after biologically relevant radiation doses and/or long repair times, the repair defect in AT cells is more pronounced than that of NHEJ mutants and correlates with radiosensitivity. NHEJ-defective cells analyzed for survival following delayed plating after irradiation show substantial recovery while AT cells fail to show any recovery. These data argue that the DSB repair defect underlies a significant component of the radiosensitivity of AT cells.


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Cancer Research




American Association for Cancer Research





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