© 2019 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. XPF endonuclease is one of the most important DNA repair proteins. Encoded by XPF/ERCC4, XPF provides the enzymatic activity of XPF-ERCC1 heterodimer, an endonuclease that incises at the 5’ side of various DNA lesions. XPF is essential for nucleotide excision repair (NER) and interstrand crosslink repair (ICLR). XPF/ERCC4 mutations are associated with several human diseases: Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), Segmental Progeria (XFE), Fanconi Anemia (FA), Cockayne Syndrome (CS), and XP/CS combined disease (XPCSCD). Most affected individuals are compound heterozygotes for XPF/ERCC4 mutations complicating the identification of genotype/phenotype correlations. We report a detailed overview of NER and ICLR functional studies in human XPF-KO (knock-out) isogenic cells expressing six disease-specific pathogenic XPF amino acid substitution mutations. Ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity and unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) assays provide the most reliable information to discern mutations associated with ICLR impairment from mutations related to NER deficiency, whereas recovery of RNA synthesis (RRS) assays results hint to a possible role of XPF in resolving R-loops. Our functional studies demonstrate that a defined cellular phenotype cannot be easily correlated to each XPF mutation. Substituted positions along XPF sequences are not predictive of cellular phenotype nor reflect a particular disease. Therefore, in addition to mutation type, allelic interactions, protein stability and intracellular distribution of mutant proteins may also contribute to alter DNA repair pathways balance leading to clinically distinct disorders.
- DNA repair
- Genotype-phenotype correlation
- XPF/ERCC4 mutations