Postreplicative joining of DNA double-strand breaks causes genomic instability in DNA-PKcs-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts

Marta Martín, Anna Genescà, Laura Latre, Isabel Jaco, Guillermo E. Taccioli, Josep Egozcue, María A. Blasco, George Iliakis, Laura Tusell

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Combined cytogenetic and biochemical approaches were used to investigate the contributions of the catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs) in the maintenance of genomic stability in nonirradiated and irradiated primary mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF). We show that telomere dysfunction contributes only marginally to genomic instability associated with DNA-PKcs deficiency in the absence of radiation. Following exposure to ionizing radiation, DNA-PKcs-/- MEFs are radiosensitized mainly as a result of the associated DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair defect. This defect manifests as an increase in the fraction of DSB rejoining with slow kinetics although nearly complete rejoining is achieved within 48 hours. Fifty-four hours after ionizing radiation, DNA-PKcs-/- cells present with a high number of simple and complex chromosome rearrangements as well as with unrepaired chromosome breaks. Overall, induction of chromosome aberrations is 6-fold higher in DNA-PKcs-/- MEFs than in their wild-type counterparts. Spectral karyotyping-fluorescence in situ hybridization technology distinguishes between rearrangements formed by prereplicative and post-replicative DSB rejoining and identifies sister chromatid fusion as a significant source of genomic instability and radiation sensitivity in DNA-PKcs-/- MEFs. Because DNA-PKcs-/- MEFs show a strong G1 checkpoint response after ionizing radiation, we propose that the delayed rejoining of DNA DSBs in DNA-PKcs-/- MEFs prolongs the mean life of broken chromosome ends and increases the probability of incorrect joining. The preponderance of sister chromatid fusion as a product of incorrect joining points to a possible defect in S-phase arrest and emphasizes proximity in these misrepair events. ©2005 American Association for Cancer Research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10223-10232
JournalCancer Research
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2005


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