Fanconi anemia (FA) is a fatal genetic disorder associated with pancytopenia and cancer. Cells lacking functional FA genes are hypersensitive to bifunctional alkylating agents, and are deficient in DNA double-strand break repair. Multiple genes with FA-causing mutations have been cloned, however, the molecular basis for FA remains obscure. The results presented herein indicate that a Rad50-dependent end-joining process is non-functional in diploid fibroblasts from FA patients. Introduction of anti-Rad50 antibody into normal fibroblasts sensitized them to DNA damaging agents, whereas this treatment had no effect on fibroblasts from FA patients. The DNA end-joining process deficient in FA cells also requires the Mre11, Nbs1 and DNA ligase IV proteins. These data reveal the existence of a previously uncharacterized Rad50-dependent DNA double-strand break repair pathway in mammalian somatic cells, and suggest that failure to activate this pathway is responsible, at least in part, for the defective DNA end-joining observed in FA cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr David Baltimore for kindly providing reagents used herein. This work was supported by the Leukemia Research Fund, the National Institutes for Health Grant AG16678 and Breast Cancer Research Programme Grant DAMD17-99-9299 from the United States Department of Defence.