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1.  Mlh2 Is an Accessory Factor for DNA Mismatch Repair in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004327.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the essential mismatch repair (MMR) endonuclease Mlh1-Pms1 forms foci promoted by Msh2-Msh6 or Msh2-Msh3 in response to mispaired bases. Here we analyzed the Mlh1-Mlh2 complex, whose role in MMR has been unclear. Mlh1-Mlh2 formed foci that often colocalized with and had a longer lifetime than Mlh1-Pms1 foci. Mlh1-Mlh2 foci were similar to Mlh1-Pms1 foci: they required mispair recognition by Msh2-Msh6, increased in response to increased mispairs or downstream defects in MMR, and formed after induction of DNA damage by phleomycin but not double-stranded breaks by I-SceI. Mlh1-Mlh2 could be recruited to mispair-containing DNA in vitro by either Msh2-Msh6 or Msh2-Msh3. Deletion of MLH2 caused a synergistic increase in mutation rate in combination with deletion of MSH6 or reduced expression of Pms1. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the S. cerevisiae Mlh2 protein and the mammalian PMS1 protein are homologs. These results support a hypothesis that Mlh1-Mlh2 is a non-essential accessory factor that acts to enhance the activity of Mlh1-Pms1.
Author Summary
Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) is a common cancer predisposition syndrome. In this syndrome, predisposition to cancer results from increased accumulation of mutations due to defective mismatch repair (MMR) caused by a mutation in one of the human mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 or PMS2. In addition to these genes, various DNA replication factors and the excision factor EXO1 function in the repair of damaged DNA by the MMR pathway. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the MLH2 gene encodes a MutL homolog protein whose role in DNA mismatch repair has been unclear. Here, we used phylogenetic analysis to demonstrate that the S. cerevisiae Mlh2 protein and the mammalian Pms1 protein are homologs. A combination of genetics, biochemistry and imaging studies were used to demonstrate that the Mlh1-Mlh2 complex is recruited to mispair-containing DNA by the Msh2-Msh6 and Msh2-Msh3 mispair recognition complexes where it forms foci that colocalize with Mlh1-Pms1 foci (note that scPms1 is the homolog of hPms2) and augments the function of the Mlh1-Pms1 complex. Thus, this work establishes the Mlh1-Mlh2 complex as a non-essential accessory factor that functions in MMR.
PMCID: PMC4014439  PMID: 24811092
2.  Reduced migration of MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells depends on SPTAN1 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:11.
Defects in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein MLH1 are frequently observed in sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancers (CRC). Affected tumors generate much less metastatic potential than the MLH1 proficient forms. Although MLH1 has been shown to be not only involved in postreplicative MMR but also in several MMR independent processes like cytoskeletal organization, the connection between MLH1 and metastasis remains unclear. We recently identified non-erythroid spectrin αII (SPTAN1), a scaffolding protein involved in cell adhesion and motility, to interact with MLH1. In the current study, the interaction of MLH1 and SPTAN1 and its potential consequences for CRC metastasis was evaluated.
Nine cancer cell lines as well as fresh and paraffin embedded colon cancer tissue from 12 patients were used in gene expression studies of SPTAN1 and MLH1. Co-expression of SPTAN1 and MLH1 was analyzed by siRNA knock down of MLH1 in HeLa, HEK293, MLH1 positive HCT116, SW480 and LoVo cells. Effects on cellular motility were determined in MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T compared to their MLH1 proficient sister cells, respectively.
MLH1 deficiency is clearly associated with SPTAN1 reduction. Moreover, siRNA knock down of MLH1 decreased the mRNA level of SPTAN1 in HeLa, HEK293 as well as in MLH1 positive HCT116 cells, which indicates a co-expression of SPTAN1 by MLH1. In addition, cellular motility of MLH1 deficient HCT116 and MLH1 deficient HEK293T cells was impaired compared to the MLH1 proficient sister clones. Consequently, overexpression of SPTAN1 increased migration of MLH1 deficient cells while knock down of SPTAN1 decreased cellular mobility of MLH1 proficient cells, indicating SPTAN1-dependent migration ability.
These data suggest that SPTAN1 levels decreased in concordance with MLH1 reduction and impaired cellular mobility in MLH1 deficient colon cancer cells. Therefore, aggressiveness of MLH1-positive CRC might be related to SPTAN1.
PMCID: PMC3904401  PMID: 24456667
DNA mismatch repair; MLH1; SPTAN1; Cytoskeletal proteins; Cellular mobility
3.  MLH1 Deficiency Enhances Radiosensitization with 5-Fluorodeoxyuridine by Increasing DNA Mismatches 
Molecular pharmacology  2008;74(3):863-871.
The antitumor drug 5-fluoro-2’-deoxyuridine (FdUrd) also sensitizes tumor cells to ionizing radiation in vitro and in vivo. While radiosensitization with FdUrd requires dTTP depletion and S-phase arrest, the exact mechanism by which these events produce radiosensitization remains unknown. We hypothesized that the depletion of dTTP produces DNA mismatches which, if not repaired prior to irradiation, would result in radiosensitization. We evaluated this hypothesis in mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient HCT116 0–1 cells which lack the expression of the required MMR protein MLH1 (inactive MLH1), and MMR-proficient (wildtype MLH1) HCT116 1–2 cells. Although HCT116 0–1 cells were less sensitive to FdUrd (IC50= 3.5 µM) versus HCT116 1–2 cells (IC50 = 0.75 µM), when irradiation followed FdUrd (IC50) the MLH1-inactivated cells exhibited greater radiosensitization compared to MMR- wildtype cells (radiation enhancement ratio (RER) = 1.8 ± 0.28 vs. 1.1 ± 0.1, respectively) and an increase (≥ 8-fold) in nucleotide misincorporations. In SW620 cells and HCT116 1–2 MLH1-wildtype cells, FdUrd (IC50) did not produce radiosensitization nor did it increase the mutation frequency, but following shRNA-directed suppression of MLH1 this concentration produced excellent radiosensitization (RER = 1.6 ± 0.10, and 1.5 ± 0.06) and an increase in nucleotide misincorporations (8-fold and 6-fold respectively). Incubation with higher concentrations of FdUrd (IC90) after suppression of MLH1 produced a further increase in IR sensitivity in both SW620 and HCT116 1–2 cells (RER = 1.8 ± 0.03, and RER = 1.7 ± 0.13, respectively) and nucleotide misincorporations (>10-fold in both cell lines). These results demonstrate an important role for MLH1 and implicate mismatches in radiosensitization by FdUrd.
PMCID: PMC2615187  PMID: 18535288
4.  MSH3 Mismatch Repair Protein Regulates Sensitivity to Cytotoxic Drugs and a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor in Human Colon Carcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e65369.
MSH3 is a DNA mismatch repair (MMR) gene that undergoes frequent somatic mutation in colorectal cancers (CRCs) with MMR deficiency. MSH3, together with MSH2, forms the MutSβ heteroduplex that interacts with interstrand cross-links induced by drugs such as cisplatin. To date, the impact of MSH3 on chemosensitivity is unknown.
We utilized isogenic HCT116 (MLH1−/MSH3−) cells where MLH1 is restored by transfer of chromosome 3 (HCT116+ch3) and also MSH3 by chromosome 5 (HCT116+3+5). We generated HCT116+3+5, SW480 (MLH1+/MSH3+) and SW48 (MLH1−/MSH3+) cells with shRNA knockdown of MSH3. Cells were treated with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), SN-38, oxaliplatin, or the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor PCI-24781 and cell viability, clonogenic survival, DNA damage and apoptosis were analyzed.
MSH3-deficient vs proficient CRC cells showed increased sensitivity to the irinotecan metabolite SN-38 and to oxaliplatin, but not 5-FU, as shown in assays for apoptosis and clonogenic survival. In contrast, suppression of MLH1 attenuated the cytotoxic effect of 5-FU, but did not alter sensitivity to SN-38 or oxaliplatin. The impact of MSH3 knockdown on chemosensitivity to SN-38 and oxaliplatin was maintained independent of MLH1 status. In MSH3-deficient vs proficient cells, SN-38 and oxaliplatin induced higher levels of phosphorylated histone H2AX and Chk2, and similar results were found in MLH1-proficient SW480 cells. MSH3-deficient vs proficient cells showed increased 53BP1 nuclear foci after irradiation, suggesting that MSH3 can regulate DNA double strand break (DSB) repair. We then utilized PCI-24781 that interferes with homologous recombination (HR) indicated by a reduction in Rad51 expression. The addition of PCI-24781 to oxaliplatin enhanced cytotoxicity to a greater extent compared to either drug alone.
MSH3 status can regulate the DNA damage response and extent of apoptosis induced by chemotherapy. The ability of MSH3 to regulate chemosensitivity was independent of MLH1 status. PCI-24781-mediated impairment of HR enhanced oxaliplatin sensitivity, suggesting that reduced DSB repair capacity may be contributory.
PMCID: PMC3665625  PMID: 23724141
5.  Transient mismatch repair gene transfection for functional analysis of genetic hMLH1 and hMSH2 variants 
Gut  2002;51(5):677-684.
Background: Germline mutations in the mismatch repair (MMR) genes hMLH1 and hMSH2 can cause hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). However, the functional in vitro analysis of hMLH1 and hMSH2 mutations remains difficult.
Aims: To establish an in vitro method for the functional characterisation of hMLH1 and hMSH2 mutations.
Methods: hMLH1 and hMSH2 wild type (wt) genes and several mutated subclones were transiently transfected in mismatch repair deficient cell lines (HCT-116 and LOVO). Apoptosis, proliferation, and regulation of mRNA expression and protein expression of interacting proteins were analysed by Hoechst staining, AlamarBlue staining, real time polymerase chain reaction, and western blotting, respectively.
Results: The protein expression of hMLH1 and hMSH2 mutants was significantly decreased after transfection compared with wild type transfections. The hMLH1 and hMSH2 interacting proteins hPMS2 and hMSH6 became detectable only after transfection of the respective wild type genes. In parallel, hMSH6 mRNA levels were increased in hMSH2 wt transfected cells. However, hPMS2 mRNA levels were independent of the mutation status of its interacting partner hMLH1, indicating a post-transcriptional regulating pathway. In the hMLH1 deficient HCT-116 cell line apoptosis was not affected by transfection of any mismatch repair gene, whereas complementation of hMSH2 deficency in LOVO cells increased apoptosis. Conversely, proliferative activity of HCT-116 was decreased by complementation with hMLH1wt and unaffected in hMSH2 deficient LOVO cells.
Conclusion: These data show that the cellular role of the MMR genes and its mutations are assessable in a simple transient transfection system and show the influence of MMR gene regulation on major cell growth regulating mechanisms. This method is applicable for the functional definition of mutations in hMLH1 and hMSH2 genes observed in patients with suspected HNPCC.
PMCID: PMC1773417  PMID: 12377806
mismatch repair genes; hMLH1; hMSH2; colorectal cancer; hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
6.  Human MLH1 Protein Participates in Genomic Damage Checkpoint Signaling in Response to DNA Interstrand Crosslinks, while MSH2 Functions in DNA Repair 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(9):e1000189.
DNA interstrand crosslinks (ICLs) are among the most toxic types of damage to a cell. For this reason, many ICL-inducing agents are effective therapeutic agents. For example, cisplatin and nitrogen mustards are used for treating cancer and psoralen plus UVA (PUVA) is useful for treating psoriasis. However, repair mechanisms for ICLs in the human genome are not clearly defined. Previously, we have shown that MSH2, the common subunit of the human MutSα and MutSβ mismatch recognition complexes, plays a role in the error-free repair of psoralen ICLs. We hypothesized that MLH1, the common subunit of human MutL complexes, is also involved in the cellular response to psoralen ICLs. Surprisingly, we instead found that MLH1-deficient human cells are more resistant to psoralen ICLs, in contrast to the sensitivity to these lesions displayed by MSH2-deficient cells. Apoptosis was not as efficiently induced by psoralen ICLs in MLH1-deficient cells as in MLH1-proficient cells as determined by caspase-3/7 activity and binding of annexin V. Strikingly, CHK2 phosphorylation was undetectable in MLH1-deficient cells, and phosphorylation of CHK1 was reduced after PUVA treatment, indicating that MLH1 is involved in signaling psoralen ICL-induced checkpoint activation. Psoralen ICLs can result in mutations near the crosslinked sites; however, MLH1 function was not required for the mutagenic repair of these lesions, and so its signaling function appears to have a role in maintaining genomic stability following exposure to ICL-induced DNA damage. Distinguishing the genetic status of MMR-deficient tumors as MSH2-deficient or MLH1-deficient is thus potentially important in predicting the efficacy of treatment with psoralen and perhaps with other ICL-inducing agents.
Author Summary
Crosslinks, linking the complementary stands of the DNA double helix, can lead to cell death, because they are so effective at interfering with normal genomic transactions such as DNA replication. This property of crosslinking agents has long been utilized in cancer therapy. The purpose of our research is to understand the function of DNA repair proteins in cellular responses to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents. MSH2 is a central protein in the recognition of DNA mismatches, and we previously found that it plays an important role in protecting cells against the toxicity of crosslinks. The MLH1 protein functions in DNA mismatch repair in a later step, and we hypothesized that MLH1 may also be involved in repair of crosslinks. We were surprised to find that MLH1 function is important for DNA crosslink-induced signaling, rather than DNA repair. MLH1-deficient cells are more resistant to crosslinks and have defective signaling to processes that signal cell death. This work may have clinical consequences, as mutations in MSH2 and MLH1 are common in tumors. MSH2-deficient cells may be more vulnerable to DNA crosslink-inducing agents than normal, while MLH1-deficient cells have a greater potential to survive crosslinking treatment, which could instead potentiate further tumor initiation.
PMCID: PMC2526179  PMID: 18787700
7.  Dominant Mutations in S. cerevisiae PMS1 Identify the Mlh1-Pms1 Endonuclease Active Site and an Exonuclease 1-Independent Mismatch Repair Pathway 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003869.
Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolypsis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) is a common cancer predisposition syndrome. Predisposition to cancer in this syndrome results from increased accumulation of mutations due to defective mismatch repair (MMR) caused by a mutation in one of the mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 or PMS2/scPMS1. To better understand the function of Mlh1-Pms1 in MMR, we used Saccharomyces cerevisiae to identify six pms1 mutations (pms1-G683E, pms1-C817R, pms1-C848S, pms1-H850R, pms1-H703A and pms1-E707A) that were weakly dominant in wild-type cells, which surprisingly caused a strong MMR defect when present on low copy plasmids in an exo1Δ mutant. Molecular modeling showed these mutations caused amino acid substitutions in the metal coordination pocket of the Pms1 endonuclease active site and biochemical studies showed that they inactivated the endonuclease activity. This model of Mlh1-Pms1 suggested that the Mlh1-FERC motif contributes to the endonuclease active site. Consistent with this, the mlh1-E767stp mutation caused both MMR and endonuclease defects similar to those caused by the dominant pms1 mutations whereas mutations affecting the predicted metal coordinating residue Mlh1-C769 had no effect. These studies establish that the Mlh1-Pms1 endonuclease is required for MMR in a previously uncharacterized Exo1-independent MMR pathway.
Author Summary
Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolypsis colorectal cancer or HNPCC) is a common cancer predisposition syndrome. Predisposition to cancer in this syndrome results from increased accumulation of mutations due to defective mismatch repair (MMR) caused by a mutation in one of the mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 or PMS2/scPMS1. In addition to these genes, various DNA replication factors and the excision factor EXO1 function in the repair of damaged DNA by the MMR pathway. Although EXO1 is considered to be the major repair nuclease functioning in mismatch repair, the relatively low mutation rates caused by an exo1 deletion suggest otherwise. Here we used genetics, microscopy and protein biochemistry to analyze the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae to further characterize a poorly understood mismatch repair pathway that functions in the absence of EXO1 that is highly dependent on the Mlh1-Pms1 complex. Surprisingly, we found that the highly conserved metal binding site that is critical for the endonuclease activity of the Mlh1-Pms1 heterodimer is required for MMR in the absence of Exo1 to a much greater extent than in the presence of Exo1. Thus, this work establishes that there are at least two different polynucleotide excision pathways that function in MMR.
PMCID: PMC3814310  PMID: 24204293
8.  MLH1-deficient HCT116 colon tumor cells exhibit resistance to the cytostatic and cytotoxic effect of the poly(A) polymerase inhibitor cordycepin (3′-deoxyadenosine) in vitro 
Oncology Letters  2011;3(2):441-444.
Cordycepin (3′-deoxyadenosine) is an inhibitor of poly(A) polymerase (PAP), an enzyme crucial to mRNA 3′-end processing, which produces the shortening of poly(A) tails, leading to the destabilization of mRNAs. Cordycepin inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in tumor cells, indicating its antitumor activity. Defective 3′-end processing is associated with hypersensitivity to UV treatment. We investigated the effects of cordycepin on proliferation and apoptosis in MLH1-deficient and MLH1-proficient HCT116 colon tumor cells. MLH1 is a DNA mismatch repair (MMR) protein involved in the processing of damaged DNA. Cells with defective MMR show resistance to certain anticancer drugs. The results showed that MLH1-deficient HCT116 cells are 2-fold less sensitive to the cytostatic effect of cordycepin, as compared to MLH1-proficient cells. This reduced sensitivity to cordycepin in MLH1-deficient cells was associated with reduced upregulation of the cell cycle inhibitor p21. MLH1-deficient cells also exhibited reduced susceptibility to apoptosis upon treatment with cordycepin, as demonstrated by the reduced PARP-1 cleavage. Our findings showed that MLH1-deficient HCT116 colon tumor cells are resistant to the cytostatic and cytotoxic effect of cordycepin, indicating a possible involvement of MMR in mRNA polyadenylation. The findings also suggest that cordycepin is not suitable to therapeutically encounter tumor cells lacking MLH1 expression.
PMCID: PMC3362504  PMID: 22740928
apoptosis; proliferation; cordycepin; DNA mismatch repair; drug resistance; mRNA polyadenylation
9.  The expression of mismatched repair genes and their correlation with clinicopathological parameters and response to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer 
The DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway is an important post-replicative repair process. It is involved in the maintenance of genomic stability and MMR genes have therefore been named the proofreaders of replicating DNA. These genes repair the replicative errors of DNA and are thus imperative for genomic stability.
The MMR genes have been found to be involved in promoting cytotoxicity, apoptosis, p53 phosphorylation and cell cycle arrest following exposure to exogenous DNA damaging agents. Loss of MMR function prevents the correction of replicative errors leading to instability of the genome, and can be detected by polymorphisms in micro satellites (1–6 nucleotide repeat sequences scattered in whole of the genome). This phenomenon, known as micro satellite instability (MSI), is a hallmark of MMR dysfunction and can be used as a marker of MMR dysfunction in colorectal and other malignancies. An alternative method for detection of MMR dysfunction is to test the expression of protein products of the MMR genes by immunohistochemistry (IHC), as mutations in these genes lead to reduced or absent expression of their gene products.
Correlation between loss of MMR function and clinical, histopathological, behavioral parameters of the tumor and its response to chemotherapy in breast cancers may be of value in predicting tumor behavior and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is an integral part of multimodal therapy for locally advanced breast cancer and predicting response may help in tailoring regimens in patients for optimum response.
After approval by the IRB(Institutional Review Board) and ethical committee of the hospital, 31 cases of locally advanced breast carcinoma (LABC) were studied to assess the correlation between MMR dysfunction, clinicopathological parameters and objective clinical response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy using immunohistochemistry. The immunohistochemical analysis for four MMR protein products -MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 was done in the pre NACT trucut biopsy specimen and after three cycles of NACT with C AF (cyclophosphamide, adriamycin, 5-fluorouracil) regimen, in the modified radical mastectomy specimen.
Results and conclusion
There was no significant correlation observed between expression of MMR proteins and age, family history, tumor size or histological type. However there was a statistically significant negative correlation between MLH1, MSH2 expression and histological grade. There was also a negative correlation observed between PMS2 expression after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and clinical response. Cases with high post NACT expression of PMS2 were poor responders to chemotherapy. MSH6 was the most frequently altered MMR gene, with a negativity rate of 48% and the patients with high expression responded poorly to NACT. The study highlights the possible role of MMR expression in predicting aggressive tumor behavior (histological grade) and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with LABC.
PMCID: PMC1802872  PMID: 17394628
10.  Assessing pathogenicity of MLH1 variants by co-expression of human MLH1 and PMS2 genes in yeast 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:382.
Loss of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) in humans, mainly due to mutations in the hMLH1 gene, is linked to hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Because not all MLH1 alterations result in loss of MMR function, accurate characterization of variants and their classification in terms of their effect on MMR function is essential for reliable genetic testing and effective treatment. To date, in vivo assays for functional characterization of MLH1 mutations performed in various model systems have used episomal expression of the modified MMR genes. We describe here a novel approach to determine accurately the functional significance of hMLH1 mutations in vivo, based on co-expression of human MLH1 and PMS2 in yeast cells.
Yeast MLH1 and PMS1 genes, whose protein products form the MutLα complex, were replaced by human orthologs directly on yeast chromosomes by homologous recombination, and the resulting MMR activity was tested.
The yeast strain co-expressing hMLH1 and hPMS2 exhibited the same mutation rate as the wild-type. Eight cancer-related MLH1 variants were introduced, using the same approach, into the prepared yeast model, and their effect on MMR function was determined. Five variants (A92P, S93G, I219V, K618R and K618T) were classified as non-pathogenic, whereas variants T117M, Y646C and R659Q were characterized as pathogenic.
Results of our in vivo yeast-based approach correlate well with clinical data in five out of seven hMLH1 variants and the described model was thus shown to be useful for functional characterization of MLH1 variants in cancer patients found throughout the entire coding region of the gene.
PMCID: PMC2773791  PMID: 19863800
11.  MLH1 promoter germline-methylation in selected probands of Chinese hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer families 
AIM: To detect the MLH1 gene promoter germline-methylation in probands of Chinese hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), and to evaluate the role of methylation in MLH1 gene promoter and molecular genetics in screening for HNPCC.
METHODS: The promoter germline methylation of MLH1 gene was detected by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) in 18 probands from unrelated HNPCC families with high microsatellite-instability (MSI-H) phenotype but without germline mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 genes. At the same time, 6 kindreds were collected with microsatellite-stability (MSS) phenotype but without germline mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 genes as controls. The results of MSP were confirmed by clone sequencing. To ensure the reliability of the results, family H65 with nonsense germline mutation at c.2228C > A in MSH2 gene was used as the negative control and the cell line sw48 was used as the known positive control along with water as the blank control. Immunochemical staining of MLH1 protein was performed with Envision two-step method in those patients with aberrant methylation to judge whether the status of MLH1 gene methylation affects the expression of MLH1 protein.
RESULTS: Five probands with MLH1 gene promoter methylation were detected in 18 Chinese HNPCC families with MSI-H phenotype but without germline mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 genes. Two of the five probands from families H10 and H29 displayed exhaustive-methylation, fulfilling the Japanese criteria (JC) and the Amsterdam criteria (AC), respectively. The other 3 probands presented part-methylation fulfilling the AC. Of the 13 probands with unmethylation phenotype, 8 fulfilled the JC and the Bethesda guidelines (BG), 5 fulfilled the AC. The rate of aberrant methylation in MLH1 gene in the AC group (22.2%, 4/18) was higher than that in the JC/BG groups (5.6%, 1/18) in all HNPCC families with MSI-H phenotype but without germline mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 genes. However, no proband with methylation in MLH1 gene was found in the families with MSS phenotype and without germline mutations in MSH2, MLH1 and MSH6 genes. No expression of MLH1 protein was found in tumor tissues from two patients with exhaustive-methylation phenotype, whereas positive expression of MLH1 protein was observed in tumor tissues from patients with partial methylation phenotype (excluding family H42 without tumor tissue), indicating that exhaustive-methylation of MLH1 gene can cause defective expression of MLH1 protein.
CONCLUSION: Methylation phenotype of MLH1 gene is correlated with microsatellite phenotype of MMR genes, especially with MSI-H. Exhaustive-methylation of MLH1 gene can silence the expression of MLH1 protein. MLH1 promoter methylation analysis is a promising tool for molecular genetics screening for HNPCC.
PMCID: PMC2778116  PMID: 19109866
Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer; MLH1; Methylation; Germline; Methylation-specific PCR; Microsatellite phenotype
12.  MLH1 expression sensitises ovarian cancer cells to cell death mediated by XIAP inhibition 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;101(2):269-277.
The X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), an endogenous apoptosis suppressor, can determine the level of caspase accumulation and the resultant response to apoptosis-inducing agents such as cisplatin in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). In addition, the mismatch repair protein, hMLH1, has been linked to DNA damage-induced apoptosis by cisplatin by both p53-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
In this study, hMLH1 expression was correlated with clinical response to platinum drugs and survival in advanced stage (III–IV) EOC patients. We then investigated whether MLH1 loss was a determinant in anti-apoptosis response to cisplatin mediated by XIAP in isogenic and established EOC cell lines with differential p53 status.
The percentage of cells undergoing cisplatin-induced cell killing was higher in MLH1-proficient cells than in MLH1-defective cells. In addition, the presence of wild-type hMLH1 or hMLH1 re-expression significantly increased sensitivity to 6-thioguanine, a MMR-dependent agent. Cell-death response to 6-thioguanine and cisplatin was associated with significant proteolysis of MLH1, with XIAP destabilisation and increased caspase-3 activity. The siRNA-mediated inhibition of XIAP increased MLH1 proteolysis and cell death in MLH1-proficient cells but not in MLH1-defective cells.
These data suggest that XIAP inhibitors may prove to be an effective means of sensitising EOC to MLH1-dependent apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2720211  PMID: 19603033
OVCAR3; SKOV3; p53; Cisplatin; MMR; 6-thioguanine
13.  Human MutL homolog (MLH1) function in DNA mismatch repair: a prospective screen for missense mutations in the ATPase domain 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(18):5321-5338.
Germline mutations in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes MSH2 and MLH1 are responsible for the majority of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), an autosomal-dominant early-onset cancer syndrome. Genetic testing of both MSH2 and MLH1 from individuals suspected of HNPCC has revealed a considerable number of missense codons, which are difficult to classify as either pathogenic mutations or silent polymorphisms. To identify novel MLH1 missense codons that impair MMR activity, a prospective genetic screen in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was developed. The screen utilized hybrid human-yeast MLH1 genes that encode proteins having regions of the yeast ATPase domain replaced by homologous regions from the human protein. These hybrid MLH1 proteins are functional in MMR in vivo in yeast. Mutagenized MLH1 fragments of the human coding region were synthesized by error-prone PCR and cloned directly in yeast by in vivo gap repair. The resulting yeast colonies, which constitute a library of hybrid MLH1 gene variants, were initially screened by semi-quantitative in vivo MMR assays. The hybrid MLH1 genes were recovered from yeast clones that exhibited a MMR defect and sequenced to identify alterations in the mutagenized region. This investigation identified 117 missense codons that conferred a 2-fold or greater decreased efficiency of MMR in subsequent quantitative MMR assays. Notably, 10 of the identified missense codons were equivalent to codon changes previously observed in the human population and implicated in HNPCC. To investigate the effect of all possible codon alterations at single residues, a comprehensive mutational analysis of human MLH1 codons 43 (lysine-43) and 44 (serine-44) was performed. Several amino acid replacements at each residue were silent, but the majority of substitutions at lysine-43 (14/19) and serine-44 (18/19) reduced the efficiency of MMR. The assembled data identifies amino acid substitutions that disrupt MLH1 structure and/or function, and should assist the interpretation of MLH1 genetic tests.
PMCID: PMC524276  PMID: 15475387
14.  Nuclear Reorganization of DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins in Response to DNA Damage 
DNA repair  2009;9(2):120.
The DNA mismatch repair (MMR) system is highly conserved and vital for preserving genomic integrity. Current mechanistic models for MMR are mainly derived from in vitro assays including reconstitution of strand specific MMR and DNA binding assays using short oligonucleotides. However, fundamental questions regarding the mechanism and regulation in the context of cellular DNA replication remain. Using synchronized populations of HeLa cells we demonstrated that hMSH2, hMLH1 and PCNA localize to the chromatin during S-phase, and accumulate to a greater extent in cells treated with a DNA alkylating agent. In addition, using small interfering RNA to deplete hMSH2, we demonstrated that hMLH1 localization to the chromatin is hMSH2-dependent. hMSH2/hMLH1/PCNA proteins, when associated with the chromatin, form a complex that is greatly enhanced by DNA damage. The DNA damage caused by high doses of alkylating agents leads to a G2 arrest after only one round of replication. In these G2-arrested cells, an hMSH2/hMLH1 complex persists on chromatin, however, PCNA is no longer in the complex. Cells treated with a lower dose of alkylating agent require two rounds of replication before cells arrest in G2. In the first S-phase, the MMR proteins form a complex with PCNA, however, during the second S-phase PCNA is missing from that complex. The distinction between these complexes may suggest separate functions for the MMR proteins in damage repair and signaling. Additionally, using confocal immunofluorescence, we observed a population of hMSH6 that localized to the nucleolus. This population is significantly reduced after DNA damage suggesting that the protein is shuttled out of the nucleolus in response to damage. In contrast, hMLH1 is excluded from the nucleolus at all times. Thus, the nucleolus may act to segregate a population of hMSH2-hMSH6 from hMLH1-hPMS2 such that, in the absence of DNA damage, an inappropriate response is not invoked.
PMCID: PMC2819642  PMID: 20004149
DNA mismatch repair; hMSH2-hMSH6; chromatin; nucleolus; DNA replication; cell cycle
15.  Mismatch Repair Genes Mlh1 and Mlh3 Modify CAG Instability in Huntington's Disease Mice: Genome-Wide and Candidate Approaches 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003930.
The Huntington's disease gene (HTT) CAG repeat mutation undergoes somatic expansion that correlates with pathogenesis. Modifiers of somatic expansion may therefore provide routes for therapies targeting the underlying mutation, an approach that is likely applicable to other trinucleotide repeat diseases. Huntington's disease HdhQ111 mice exhibit higher levels of somatic HTT CAG expansion on a C57BL/6 genetic background (B6.HdhQ111) than on a 129 background (129.HdhQ111). Linkage mapping in (B6x129).HdhQ111 F2 intercross animals identified a single quantitative trait locus underlying the strain-specific difference in expansion in the striatum, implicating mismatch repair (MMR) gene Mlh1 as the most likely candidate modifier. Crossing B6.HdhQ111 mice onto an Mlh1 null background demonstrated that Mlh1 is essential for somatic CAG expansions and that it is an enhancer of nuclear huntingtin accumulation in striatal neurons. HdhQ111 somatic expansion was also abolished in mice deficient in the Mlh3 gene, implicating MutLγ (MLH1–MLH3) complex as a key driver of somatic expansion. Strikingly, Mlh1 and Mlh3 genes encoding MMR effector proteins were as critical to somatic expansion as Msh2 and Msh3 genes encoding DNA mismatch recognition complex MutSβ (MSH2–MSH3). The Mlh1 locus is highly polymorphic between B6 and 129 strains. While we were unable to detect any difference in base-base mismatch or short slipped-repeat repair activity between B6 and 129 MLH1 variants, repair efficiency was MLH1 dose-dependent. MLH1 mRNA and protein levels were significantly decreased in 129 mice compared to B6 mice, consistent with a dose-sensitive MLH1-dependent DNA repair mechanism underlying the somatic expansion difference between these strains. Together, these data identify Mlh1 and Mlh3 as novel critical genetic modifiers of HTT CAG instability, point to Mlh1 genetic variation as the likely source of the instability difference in B6 and 129 strains and suggest that MLH1 protein levels play an important role in driving of the efficiency of somatic expansions.
Author Summary
The expansion of a CAG repeat underlies Huntington's disease (HD), with longer CAG tracts giving rise to earlier onset and more severe disease. In individuals harboring a CAG expansion the repeat undergoes further somatic expansion over time, particularly in brain cells most susceptible to disease pathogenesis. Preventing this repeat lengthening may delay disease onset and/or slow progression. We are using mouse models of HD to identify the factors that modify the somatic expansion of the HD CAG repeat, as these may provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention. To identify genetic modifiers of somatic expansion in HD mouse models we have used both an unbiased genetic mapping approach in inbred mouse strains that exhibit different levels of somatic expansion, as well as targeted gene knockout approaches. Our results demonstrate that: 1) Mlh1 and Mlh3 genes, encoding components of the DNA mismatch repair pathway, are critical for somatic CAG expansion; 2) in the absence of somatic expansion the pathogenic process in the mouse is slowed; 3) MLH1 protein levels are likely to be a driver of the efficiency of somatic expansion. Together, our data provide new insight into the factors underlying the process of somatic expansion of the HD CAG repeat.
PMCID: PMC3814320  PMID: 24204323
16.  Mismatch repair system decreases cell survival by stabilizing the tetraploid G1 arrest in response to SN-38 
The role of the mismatch repair (MMR) system in correcting base–base mismatches is well established; its involvement in the response to DNA double strand breaks, however, is less clear. We investigated the influence of the essential component of MMR, the hMLH1 protein, on the cellular response to DNA-double strand breaks induced by treatment with SN-38, the active metabolite of topoisomerase I inhibitor irinotecan, in a strictly isogenic cell system (p53wt, hMLH1+/p53wt, hMLH1−). By using hMLH1 expressing clones or cells transduced with the hMLH1-expressing adenovirus as well as siRNA technology, we show that in response to SN-38-induced DNA damage the MMR proficient (MMR+) cells make: (i) a stronger G2/M arrest, (ii) a subsequent longer tetraploid G1 arrest, (iii) a stronger activation of Chk1 and Chk2 kinases than the MMR deficient (MMR−) counterparts. Both Cdk2 and Cdk4 kinases contribute to the basal tetraploid G1 arrest in MMR+ and MMR− cells. Although the Chk1 kinase is involved in the G2/M arrest, neither Chk1 nor Chk2 are involved in the enhancement of the tetraploid G1 arrest. The long-lasting tetraploid G1 arrest of MMR+ cells is associated with their lower clonogenic survival after SN-38 treatment, the abrogation of the tetraploid G1 arrest resulted in their better clonogenic survival. These data show that the stabilization of the tetraploid G1 arrest in response to double strand breaks is a novel function of the MMR system that contributes to the lesser survival of MMR+ cells.
PMCID: PMC4205106  PMID: 19739070
mismatch repair; irinotecan; tetraploid G1 arrest; colon carcinoma cells; chemotherapy
17.  The role of nitric oxide radicals in removal of hyper-radiosensitivity by priming irradiation 
Journal of Radiation Research  2013;54(6):1015-1028.
In this study, a mechanism in which low-dose hyper-radiosensitivity (HRS) is permanently removed, induced by low-dose-rate (LDR) (0.2–0.3 Gy/h for 1 h) but not by high-dose-rate priming (0.3 Gy at 40 Gy/h) was investigated. One HRS-negative cell line (NHIK 3025) and two HRS-positive cell lines (T-47D, T98G) were used. The effects of different pretreatments on HRS were investigated using the colony assay. Cell-based ELISA was used to measure nitric oxide synthase (NOS) levels, and microarray analysis to compare gene expression in primed and unprimed cells. The data show how permanent removal of HRS, previously found to be induced by LDR priming irradiation, can also be induced by addition of nitric oxide (NO)-donor DEANO combined with either high-dose-rate priming or exposure to prolonged cycling hypoxia followed by reoxygenation, a treatment not involving radiation. The removal of HRS appears not to involve DNA damage induced during priming irradiation as it was also induced by LDR irradiation of cell-conditioned medium without cells present. The permanent removal of HRS in LDR-primed cells was reversed by treatment with inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor 1400W. Furthermore, 1400W could also induce HRS in an HRS-negative cell line. The data suggest that LDR irradiation for 1 h, but not 15 min, activates iNOS, and also that sustained iNOS activation is necessary for the permanent removal of HRS by LDR priming. The data indicate that nitric oxide production is involved in the regulatory processes determining cellular responses to low-dose-rate irradiation.
PMCID: PMC3823782  PMID: 23685670
nitric oxide; inducible nitric oxide synthase; hyper-radiosensitivity; low dose-rate
18.  MLH1 Deficiency Enhances Tumor Cell Sensitivity to Ganciclovir 
Cancer gene therapy  2009;16(9):683-692.
Suicide gene therapy with herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase and ganciclovir is notable for producing multi-log cytotoxicity in a unique pattern of delayed cytotoxicity in S-phase. Because hydroxyurea, a ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor that activates mismatch repair, can increase sensitivity to ganciclovir, we evaluated the role of MLH1, an essential mismatch repair protein, in ganciclovir cytotoxicity. Using HCT116TK (HSV-TK-expressing) colon carcinoma cells that express or lack MLH1, cell survival studies demonstrated greater ganciclovir sensitivity in the MLH1 deficient cells, primarily at high concentrations. This could not be explained by differences in ganciclovir metabolism, as the less sensitive MLH1-expresssing cells accumulated more ganciclovir triphosphate and incorporated more of the analog into DNA. SiRNA suppression of MLH1 in U251 glioblastoma or SW480 colon carcinoma cells also enhanced sensitivity to high concentrations of ganciclovir. Studies in a panel of yeast deletion mutants confirmed the results with MLH1, and further suggested a role for homologous recombination repair and several cell cycle checkpoint proteins in ganciclovir cytotoxicity. These data suggest that MLH1 can prevent cytotoxicity with ganciclovir. Targeting mismatch repair-deficient tumors may increase efficacy of this suicide gene therapy approach to cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3118284  PMID: 19300472
ganciclovir; mismatch repair; MLH1
19.  Measurement of DNA mismatch repair activity in live cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(12):e100.
Loss of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) function leads to the development and progression of certain cancers. Currently, assays for DNA MMR activity involve the use of cell extracts and are technically challenging and costly. Here, we report a rapid, less labor-intensive method that can quantitatively measure MMR activity in live cells. A G–G or T–G mismatch was introduced into the ATG start codon of the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) gene. Repair of the G–G or T–G mismatch to G–C or T–A, respectively, in the heteroduplex plasmid generates a functional EGFP gene expression. The heteroduplex plasmid and a similarly constructed homoduplex plasmid were transfected in parallel into the same cell line and the number of green cells counted by flow cytometry. Relative EGFP expression was calculated as the total fluorescence intensity of cells transfected with the heteroduplex construct divided by that of cells transfected with the homoduplex construct. We have tested several cell lines from both MMR-deficient and MMR-proficient groups using this method, including a colon carcinoma cell line HCT116 with defective hMLH1 gene and a derivative complemented by transient transfection with hMLH1 cDNA. Results show that MMR-proficient cells have significantly higher EGFP expression than MMR-deficient cells, and that transient expression of hMLH1 alone can elevate MMR activity in HCT116 cells. This method is potentially useful in comparing and monitoring MMR activity in live cells under various growth conditions.
PMCID: PMC484197  PMID: 15249596
20.  ATM-Mediated Stabilization of hMutL DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins Augments p53 Activation during DNA Damage 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(14):6430-6444.
Human DNA mismatch repair (MMR) proteins correct DNA errors and regulate cellular response to DNA damage by signaling apoptosis. Mutations of MMR genes result in genomic instability and cancer development. Nonetheless, how MMR proteins are regulated has not yet been determined. While hMLH1, hPMS2, and hMLH3 are known to participate in MMR, the function of another member of MutL-related proteins, hPMS1, remains unclear. Here we show that DNA damage induces the accumulation of hPMS1, hPMS2, and hMLH1 through ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM)-mediated protein stabilization. The subcellular localization of PMS proteins is also regulated during DNA damage, which induces nuclear localization of hPMS1 and hPMS2 in an hMLH1-dependent manner. The induced levels of hMLH1 and hPMS1 are important for the augmentation of p53 phosphorylation by ATM in response to DNA damage. These observations identify hMutL proteins as regulators of p53 response and demonstrate for the first time a function of hMLH1-hPMS1 complex in controlling the DNA damage response.
PMCID: PMC434232  PMID: 15226443
21.  Localization of MLH3 at the Centrosomes 
Mutations in human DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes are commonly associated with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). MLH1 protein heterodimerizes with PMS2, PMS1, and MLH3 to form MutLα, MutLβ, and MutLγ, respectively. We reported recently stable expression of GFP-linked MLH3 in human cell lines. Monitoring these cell lines during the cell cycle using live cell imaging combined with confocal microscopy, we detected accumulation of MLH3 at the centrosomes. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) revealed high mobility and fast exchange rates at the centrosomes as it has been reported for other DNA repair proteins. MLH3 may have a role in combination with other repair proteins in the control of centrosome numbers.
PMCID: PMC4159832  PMID: 25116689
DNA mismatch repair (MMR); MLH3; centrosome
22.  DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins Are Required for Efficient Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Replication▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(23):12241-12253.
Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a double-stranded DNA virus that replicates in the nucleus of its human host cell and is known to interact with many cellular DNA repair proteins. In this study, we examined the role of cellular mismatch repair (MMR) proteins in the virus life cycle. Both MSH2 and MLH1 are required for efficient replication of HSV-1 in normal human cells and are localized to viral replication compartments. In addition, a previously reported interaction between MSH6 and ICP8 was confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation and extended to show that UL12 is also present in this complex. We also report for the first time that MLH1 associates with ND10 nuclear bodies and that like other ND10 proteins, MLH1 is recruited to the incoming genome. Knockdown of MLH1 inhibits immediate-early viral gene expression. MSH2, on the other hand, which is generally thought to play a role in mismatch repair at a step prior to that of MLH1, is not recruited to incoming genomes and appears to act at a later step in the viral life cycle. Silencing of MSH2 appears to inhibit early gene expression. Thus, both MLH1 and MSH2 are required but appear to participate in distinct events in the virus life cycle. The observation that MLH1 plays an earlier role in HSV-1 infection than does MSH2 is surprising and may indicate a novel function for MLH1 distinct from its known MSH2-dependent role in mismatch repair.
PMCID: PMC3209375  PMID: 21957315
23.  Vitamin and antioxidant rich diet increases MLH1 promoter DNA methylation in DMT2 subjects 
Clinical Epigenetics  2012;4(1):19.
Oxidative stress may lead to an increased level of unrepaired cellular DNA damage, which is discussed as one risk for tumor initiation. Mismatch repair (MMR) enzymes act as proofreading complexes that maintain the genomic integrity and MMR-deficient cells show an increased mutation rate. One important gene in the MMR complex is the MutL homolog 1 (MLH1) gene. Since a diet rich in antioxidants has the potential to counteract harmful effects by reactive oxygen species (ROS), we investigated the impact of an antioxidant, folate, and vitamin rich diet on the epigenetic pattern of MLH1. These effects were analyzed in individuals with non-insulin depended diabetes mellitus type 2 (NIDDM2) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
In this post-hoc analysis of a randomized trial we analyzed DNA methylation of MLH1, MSH2, and MGMT at baseline and after 8 weeks of intervention, consisting of 300 g vegetables and 25 ml plant oil rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids per day. DNA methylation was quantified using combined bisulfite restriction enzyme analysis (COBRA) and pyrosequencing. MLH1 and DNMT1 mRNA expression were investigated by qRT-PCR. DNA damage was assessed by COMET assay. Student’s two-tailed paired t test and one-way ANOVA with Scheffé corrected Post hoc test was used to determine significant methylation and expression differences. Two-tailed Pearson test was used to determine correlations between methylation level, gene expression, and DNA strand break amount.
The intervention resulted in significantly higher CpG methylation in two particular MLH1 promoter regions and the MGMT promoter. DNA strand breaks and methylation levels correlated significantly. The expression of MLH1, DNMT1, and the promoter methylation of MSH2 remained stable. CpG methylation levels and gene expression did not correlate.
This vitamin and antioxidant rich diet affected the CpG methylation of MLH1. The higher methylation might be a result of the ROS scavenging antioxidant rich diet, leading to lower activity of DNA demethylating enzymes. Our results suggest the hypothesis of CpG demethylation via DNA repair enzymes under these circumstances. NIDDM2 and IFG patients benefit from this simple dietary intervention involving epigenetic and DNA repair mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3579724  PMID: 23025454
MLH1; ROS; DNA methylation; Demethylation; Nutritional intervention; Diabetes; Antioxidant; Pyrosequencing
24.  Antimutagenicity of Cinnamaldehyde and Vanillin in Human Cells: Global Gene Expression and Possible Role of DNA Damage and Repair 
Mutation research  2006;616(1-2):60-69.
Vanillin (VAN) and cinnamaldehyde (CIN) are dietary flavorings that exhibit antimutagenic activity against mutagen-induced and spontaneous mutations in bacteria. Although these compounds were antimutagenic against chromosomal mutations in mammalian cells, they have not been studied for antimutagenesis against spontaneous gene mutations in mammalian cells. Thus, we initiated studies with VAN and CIN in human mismatch repair-deficient (hMLH1−) HCT116 colon cancer cells, which exhibit high spontaneous mutation rates (mutations/cell/generation) at the HPRT locus, permitting analysis of antimutagenic effects of agents against spontaneous mutation. Long-term (1–3-week) treatments of HCT116 cells with VAN at minimally toxic concentrations (0.5–2.5 mM) reduced the spontaneous HPRT mutant fraction (MF, mutants/106 survivors) in a concentration-related manner by 19% to 73%. A similar treatment with CIN at 2.5–7.5 μM yielded a 13% to 56% reduction of the spontaneous MF. Short-term (4–h) treatments also reduced the spontaneous MF by 64% (VAN) and 31% (CIN). To investigate the mechanisms of antimutagenesis, we evaluated the ability of VAN and CIN to induce DNA damage (comet assay) and to alter global gene expression (Affymetrix GeneChip) after 4-h treatments. Both VAN and CIN induced DNA damage in both mismatch repair-proficient (HCT116 + chr3) and deficient (HCT116) cells at concentrations that were antimutagenic in HCT116 cells. There were 64 genes in common whose expression was changed similarly by both VAN and CIN; these included genes related to DNA damage, stress responses, oxidative damage, apoptosis, and cell growth. RT-PCR results paralleled the Affymetrix results for 4 selected genes (HMOX1, DDIT4, GCLM, and CLK4). Our results show for the first time that VAN and CIN are antimutagenic against spontaneous mutations in mammalian (human) cells. These and other data lead us to propose that VAN and CIN may induce DNA damage that elicits recombinational DNA repair and, consequently, reduces spontaneous mutation.
PMCID: PMC1955325  PMID: 17178418
Cinnamaldehyde; Vanillin; Spontaneous mutagenesis; Microarray; Comet assay; Human cells; HPRT
25.  C-Terminal Fluorescent Labeling Impairs Functionality of DNA Mismatch Repair Proteins 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31863.
The human DNA mismatch repair (MMR) process is crucial to maintain the integrity of the genome and requires many different proteins which interact perfectly and coordinated. Germline mutations in MMR genes are responsible for the development of the hereditary form of colorectal cancer called Lynch syndrome. Various mutations mainly in two MMR proteins, MLH1 and MSH2, have been identified so far, whereas 55% are detected within MLH1, the essential component of the heterodimer MutLα (MLH1 and PMS2). Most of those MLH1 variants are pathogenic but the relevance of missense mutations often remains unclear. Many different recombinant systems are applied to filter out disease-associated proteins whereby fluorescent tagged proteins are frequently used. However, dye labeling might have deleterious effects on MutLα's functionality. Therefore, we analyzed the consequences of N- and C-terminal fluorescent labeling on expression level, cellular localization and MMR activity of MutLα. Besides significant influence of GFP- or Red-fusion on protein expression we detected incorrect shuttling of single expressed C-terminal GFP-tagged PMS2 into the nucleus and found that C-terminal dye labeling impaired MMR function of MutLα. In contrast, N-terminal tagged MutLαs retained correct functionality and can be recommended both for the analysis of cellular localization and MMR efficiency.
PMCID: PMC3279419  PMID: 22348133

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