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1.  Exceptional Association Between Klinefelter Syndrome and Growth Hormone Deficiency 
Genome Integrity  2015;6:3.
Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is characterized in adults by the combination of a tall stature, small testes, gynecomastia, and azoospermia. This case is described in a North African population of the Mediterranean region of North Africa. We report the case of a male 16 years old, of Arab ethnic origin, and diagnosed with this syndrome, who had a small height in relation to a growth hormone (GH) deficiency and a history of absence seizures (generalized myoclonic epilepsy). The patient's size was <−2.8 standard deviation (SD) with weight <−3 SD. GH deficiency was isolated and confirmed by two dynamic tests (insulin — hypoglycemia tolerance test and clonidine) with normal hypothalamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). GH supplementation using recombinant GH was advocated, while gonadotropin treatment was deferred.
Small size in children or adolescents should not eliminate the diagnosis of Klinefelter syndrome — on the contrary, the presence of any associated sign (brain maturation, delay in puberty, aggressiveness) should encourage one to request a karyotype for the diagnosis and appropriate care of any case of KS that can be associated with GH deficiency, or which is in a variant form (isochromosome Xq, 49,XXXXY).
PMCID: PMC4911902  PMID: 27330737
Growth hormone (GH) deficiency; Klinefelter syndrome (KS); short stature
2.  Systematic Analysis of Integrated Gene Functional Network of Four Chronic Stress-related Lifestyle Disorders 
Genome Integrity  2015;6:1.
Stress is a term used to define factors involved in changes in the physiological balances resulting in disease conditions. Chronic exposure to stress conditions in modern lifestyles has resulted in a group of disorders called lifestyle disorders. Genetic background and environmental factors are interrelated to lifestyle in determining the health status of individuals. Hence, identification of disease-associated genes is the primary step toward explanations of pathogenesis of these diseases. In functional genomics, large-scale molecular and physiological data are used for the identification of causative genes associated with a disease.
The objective of our study was to find a common set of genes involved in chronic stress-related lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), type 2 diabetes (T2D), hypertension (HTN), and obesity.
Materials and Methods:
In our study, we have performed a systematic analysis of the functional gene network of four chronic stress-related lifestyle diseases by retrieving genes from published databases. We have tried to systematically construct a functional protein-protein interaction (PPI) network. The goals of establishing this network were the functional enrichment study of interacting partners as well as functional disease ontology annotation (FunDO) of the enriched genes.
This study enabled the identification of key genes involved in these stress-related lifestyle diseases by prioritizing candidate genes based on their degree of involvement. In this systematic analysis, we have found key genes for these diseases based on their involvement and association at the gene network level and PPI.
We have deciphered a group of genes that in combination play a crucial role and may impact the function of the whole genome in the four lifestyle disorders mentioned.
PMCID: PMC4911901  PMID: 27330735
Chronic stress; cardiovascular disease (CVD); hypertension (HTN); lifestyle; obesity; type 2 diabetes (T2D)
3.  Involvement of Iron-Containing Proteins in Genome Integrity in Arabidopsis Thaliana 
Genome Integrity  2015;6:2.
The Arabidopsis genome encodes numerous iron-containing proteins such as iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster proteins and hemoproteins. These proteins generally utilize iron as a cofactor, and they perform critical roles in photosynthesis, genome stability, electron transfer, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Plants have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to maintain iron homeostasis for the assembly of functional iron-containing proteins, thereby ensuring genome stability, cell development, and plant growth. Over the past few years, our understanding of iron-containing proteins and their functions involved in genome stability has expanded enormously. In this review, I provide the current perspectives on iron homeostasis in Arabidopsis, followed by a summary of iron-containing protein functions involved in genome stability maintenance and a discussion of their possible molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4911903  PMID: 27330736
Genome integrity; iron-containing protein; iron homeostasis
4.  Role of LET and chromatin structure on chromosomal inversion in CHO10B2 cells 
Genome Integrity  2014;5:1.
In this study we evaluated the effect of linear energy transfer (LET) and chromatin structure on the induction of chromosomal inversion. High LET radiation causes more complex DNA damage than low LET radiation; this “dirty” damage is more difficult to repair and may result in an increase in inversion formation. CHO10B2 cells synchronized in either G1 or M phase were exposed 0, 1, or 2 Gy of 5 mm Al and Cu filters at 200 kVp and 20 mA X-rays or 500 MeV/nucleon of initial energy and 200 keV/μ m Fe ion radiation. In order to increase the sensitivity of prior techniques used to study inversions, we modified the more traditional Giemsa plus fluorescence technique so that cells were only allowed to incorporate BrdU for a single cycle verses 2 cycles. The BrdU incorporated DNA strand was labeled using a BrdU antibody and an Alexa Fluor 488 probe. This modified technique allowed us to observe inversions smaller than 0.6 megabases (Mb).
In this study we have shown that high LET radiation induces significantly more inversions in G1 cells than in M phase cells. Additionally, we have shown that the sizes of the induced inversions not only differ between Fe ion and X-rays, but also between G1 and M phase cells exposed to Fe ions.
We have effectively shown that both radiation quality and chromosome structure interact to alter not only the number of inversions induced, but also the size of the inversions.
PMCID: PMC3917374  PMID: 24467838
Inversions; DNA damage; DNA repair; Cytogenetics
5.  SIRT1/PARP1 crosstalk: connecting DNA damage and metabolism 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:6.
An intricate network regulates the activities of SIRT1 and PARP1 proteins and continues to be uncovered. Both SIRT1 and PARP1 share a common co-factor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) and several common substrates, including regulators of DNA damage response and circadian rhythms. We review this complex network using an interactive Molecular Interaction Map (MIM) to explore the interplay between these two proteins. Here we discuss how NAD + competition and post-transcriptional/translational feedback mechanisms create a regulatory network sensitive to environmental cues, such as genotoxic stress and metabolic states, and examine the role of those interactions in DNA repair and ultimately, cell fate decisions.
PMCID: PMC3898398  PMID: 24360018
SIRT1; Sirtuins; PARP1; Poly-(ADP) polymerases; Metabolism; Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) competition; Post-translational modifications; Transcriptional regulation; DNA damage repair; Circadian rhythms
6.  Tumor hypoxia as a driving force in genetic instability 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:5.
Sub-regions of hypoxia exist within all tumors and the presence of intratumoral hypoxia has an adverse impact on patient prognosis. Tumor hypoxia can increase metastatic capacity and lead to resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Hypoxia also leads to altered transcription and translation of a number of DNA damage response and repair genes. This can lead to inhibition of recombination-mediated repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Hypoxia can also increase the rate of mutation. Therefore, tumor cell adaptation to the hypoxic microenvironment can drive genetic instability and malignant progression. In this review, we focus on hypoxia-mediated genetic instability in the context of aberrant DNA damage signaling and DNA repair. Additionally, we discuss potential therapeutic approaches to specifically target repair-deficient hypoxic tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC4016142  PMID: 24152759
Hypoxia; Genetic instability; DNA damage; DNA double-strand breaks; DNA repair
7.  Aging phenotypes in cultured normal human mammary epithelial cells are correlated with decreased telomerase activity independent of telomere length 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:4.
Shortening of telomeres, which are essential for maintenance of genomic integrity, is a mechanism commonly associated with the aging process. Here we ascertained whether changes in telomere lengths or telomerase activity correlated with age in normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC), or with phenotypes of aging in breast. Accordingly, flow cytometry fluorescence in situ hybridization (flowFISH) was used to determine relative telomere lengths (RTL), and telomerase activity was measured by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP), in a collection of 41 primary HMEC strains established from women aged 16 to 91 years.
RTL measurements of HMEC strains that were heterogeneous with respect to lineage composition revealed no significant associations between telomere length with age, maximum observed population doublings, or with lineage composition of the strains. However, within strains, luminal epithelial and cKit-expressing epithelial progenitor cells that were flow cytometry-enriched from individual HMEC strains exhibited significantly shorter telomeres relative to isogenic myoepithelial cells (P < 0.01). In unsorted strains, detectable telomerase activity did not correlate with RTL. Telomerase activity declined with age; the average age of strains that exhibited TRAP activity was 29.7 ± 3.9y, whereas the average age of strains with no detectable TRAP activity was 49.0 ± 4.9y (P < 0.01). Non-detectable TRAP activity also was correlated with phenotypes of aging previously described in HMEC strains; increased proportions of CD227-expressing luminal epithelial cells (P < 0.05) and cKit-expressing progenitor cells (P < 0.05).
Telomere shortening did not correlate with the chronological ages of HMEC strains, whereas decreased telomerase activity correlated with age and with lineage distribution phenotypes characteristic of aging.
PMCID: PMC3672013  PMID: 23718190
Aging; Human mammary epithelial cell; HMEC; Telomere; Telomerase
8.  Genome-wide distribution of histone H4 Lysine 16 acetylation sites and their relationship to gene expression 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:3.
Histone post-translational modifications are critical determinants of chromatin structure and function, impacting multiple biological processes including DNA transcription, replication, and repair. The post-translational acetylation of histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16ac) was initially identified in association with dosage compensation of the Drosophila male X chromosome. However, in mammalian cells, H4K16ac is not associated with dosage compensation and the genomic distribution of H4K16ac is not precisely known. Therefore, we have mapped the genome-wide H4K16ac distribution in human cells.
We performed H4K16ac chromatin immunoprecipitation from human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells followed by hybridization to whole-genome tiling arrays and identified 25,893 DNA regions (false discovery rate <0.005) with average length of 692 nucleotides. Interestingly, although a majority of H4K16ac sites localized within genes, only a relatively small fraction (~10%) was found near promoters, in contrast to the distribution of the acetyltransferase, MOF, responsible for acetylation at K16 of H4. Using differential gene expression profiling data, 73 genes (> ±1.5-fold) were identified as potential H4K16ac-regulated genes. Seventeen transcription factor-binding sites were significantly associated with H4K16ac occupancy (p < 0.0005). In addition, a consensus 12-nucleotide guanine-rich sequence motif was identified in more than 55% of the H4K16ac peaks.
The results suggest that H4K16 acetylation has a limited effect on transcription regulation in HEK293 cells, whereas H4K16ac has been demonstrated to have critical roles in regulating transcription in mouse embryonic stem cells. Thus, H4K16ac-dependent transcription regulation is likely a cell type specific process.
PMCID: PMC3667149  PMID: 23587301
Genome; H4K16ac; Gene expression
9.  Analysis of telomere length and function in radiosensitive mouse and human cells in response to DNA-PKcs inhibition 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:2.
Telomeres, the physical ends of chromosomes, play an important role in preserving genomic integrity. This protection is supported by telomere binding proteins collectively known as the shelterin complex. The shelterin complex protects chromosome ends by suppressing DNA damage response and acting as a regulator of telomere length maintenance by telomerase, an enzyme that elongates telomeres. Telomere dysfunction manifests in different forms including chromosomal end-to-end fusion, telomere shortening and p53-dependent apoptosis and/or senescence. An important shelterin-associated protein with critical role in telomere protection in human and mouse cells is the catalytic subunit of DNA-protein kinase (DNA-PKcs). DNA-PKcs deficiency in mouse cells results in elevated levels of spontaneous telomeric fusion, a marker of telomere dysfunction, but does not cause telomere length shortening. Similarly, inhibition of DNA-PKcs with chemical inhibitor, IC86621, prevents chromosomal end protection through mechanism reminiscent of dominant-negative reduction in DNA-PKcs activity.
We demonstrate here that the IC86621 mediated inhibition of DNA-PKcs in two mouse lymphoma cell lines results not only in elevated frequencies of chromosome end-to-end fusions, but also accelerated telomere shortening in the presence of telomerase. Furthermore, we observed increased levels of spontaneous telomeric fusions in Artemis defective human primary fibroblasts in which DNA-PKcs was inhibited, but no significant changes in telomere length.
These results confirm that DNA-PKcs plays an active role in chromosome end protection in mouse and human cells. Furthermore, it appears that DNA-PKcs is also involved in telomere length regulation, independently of telomerase activity, in mouse lymphoma cells but not in human cells.
PMCID: PMC3614538  PMID: 23521760
Telomere length; DNA-PKcs; Artemis; Mouse lymphoma; Telomere dysfunction; IC86621; Flow-FISH; Radiosensitivity
10.  The shape of the radiation dose response for DNA double-strand break induction and repair 
Genome Integrity  2013;4:1.
DNA double-strand breaks are among the most deleterious lesions induced by ionising radiation. A range of inter-connected cellular response mechanisms has evolved to enable their efficient repair and thus protect the cell from the harmful consequences of un- or mis-repaired breaks which may include early effects such as cell killing and associated acute toxicities and late effects such as cancer. A number of studies suggest that the induction and repair of double-strand breaks may not always occur linearly with ionising radiation dose. Here we have aimed to identify and discuss some of the biological and methodological factors that can potentially modify the shape of the dose response curve obtained for these endpoints using the most common assays for double-strand breaks, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and microscopic scoring of radiation-induced foci.
PMCID: PMC3616853  PMID: 23522792
DNA double-strand break; Ionising radiation; Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; Gamma-H2AX; Dose response; Low dose
11.  Resolution of complex ends by Nonhomologous end joining - better to be lucky than good? 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:10.
The Nonhomologous end joining pathway is essential for efficient repair of chromosome double strand breaks. This pathway consequently plays a key role in cellular resistance to break-inducing exogenous agents, as well as in the developmentally-programmed recombinations that are required for adaptive immunity. Chromosome breaks often have complex or “dirty” end structures that can interfere with the critical ligation step in this pathway; we review here how Nonhomologous end joining resolves such breaks.
PMCID: PMC3547747  PMID: 23276302
Double strand break repair; Nonhomologous end joining; DNA damage; Ionizing radiation
12.  Pathway choice in DNA double strand break repair: observations of a balancing act 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:9.
Proper repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) is vital for the preservation of genomic integrity. There are two main pathways that repair DSBs, Homologous recombination (HR) and Non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ). HR is restricted to the S and G2 phases of the cell cycle due to the requirement for the sister chromatid as a template, while NHEJ is active throughout the cell cycle and does not rely on a template. The balance between both pathways is essential for genome stability and numerous assays have been developed to measure the efficiency of the two pathways. Several proteins are known to affect the balance between HR and NHEJ and the complexity of the break also plays a role. In this review we describe several repair assays to determine the efficiencies of both pathways. We discuss how disturbance of the balance between HR and NHEJ can lead to disease, but also how it can be exploited for cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3557175  PMID: 23181949
DSB repair; HR; NHEJ; DNA repair assays; PARP inhibitors
13.  Gamma-H2AX foci in cells exposed to a mixed beam of X-rays and alpha particles 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:8.
Little is known about the cellular effects of exposure to mixed beams of high and low linear energy transfer radiation. So far, the effects of combined exposures have mainly been assessed with clonogenic survival or cytogenetic methods, and the results are contradictory. The gamma-H2AX assay has up to now not been applied in this context, and it is a promising tool for investigating the early cellular response to mixed beam irradiation.
To determine the dose response and repair kinetics of gamma-H2AX ionizing radiation-induced foci in VH10 human fibroblasts exposed to mixed beams of 241Am alpha particles and X-rays.
VH10 human fibroblasts were irradiated with each radiation type individually or both in combination at 37°C. Foci were scored for repair kinetics 0.5, 1, 3 and 24 h after irradiation (one dose per irradiation type), and for dose response at the 1 h time point. The dose response effect of mixed beam was additive, and the relative biological effectiveness for alpha particles (as compared to X-rays) was of 0.76 ± 0.52 for the total number of foci, and 2.54 ± 1.11 for large foci. The repair kinetics for total number of foci in cells exposed to mixed beam irradiation was intermediate to that of cells exposed to alpha particles and X-rays. However, for mixed beam-irradiated cells the frequency and area of large foci were initially lower than predicted and increased during the first 3 hours of repair (while the predicted number and area did not).
The repair kinetics of large foci after mixed beam exposure was significantly different from predicted based on the effect of the single dose components. The formation of large foci was delayed and they did not reach their maximum area until 1 h after irradiation. We hypothesize that the presence of low X-ray-induced damage engages the DNA repair machinery leading to a delayed DNA damage response to the more complex DNA damage induced by alpha particles.
PMCID: PMC3531250  PMID: 23121736
Ionizing radiation; LET; Alpha particles; X-rays; Mixed beam; Gamma-H2AX; Foci; IRIF
14.  Fanconi-like crosslink repair in yeast 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:7.
Interstrand crosslinks covalently link complementary DNA strands, block replication and transcription, and can trigger cell death. In eukaryotic systems several pathways, including the Fanconi Anemia pathway, are involved in repairing interstrand crosslinks, but their precise mechanisms remain enigmatic. The lack of functional homologs in simpler model organisms has significantly hampered progress in this field. Two recent studies have finally identified a Fanconi-like interstrand crosslink repair pathway in yeast. Future studies in this simplistic model organism promise to greatly improve our basic understanding of complex interstrand crosslink repair pathways like the Fanconi pathway.
PMCID: PMC3524468  PMID: 23062727
Fanconi anemia; Interstrand crosslink repair; Mph1; Chl1; Slx4; Msh2; Msh6; Mhf1; Mhf2
15.  Dysfunctional telomeres in primary cells from Fanconi anemia FANCD2 patients 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:6.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is characterized by sensitivity to DNA cross-linking agents, mild cellular, and marked clinical radio sensitivity. In this study we investigated telomeric abnormalities of non-immortalized primary cells (lymphocytes and fibroblasts) derived from FA patients of the FA-D2 complementation group, which provides a more accurate physiological assessment than is possible with transformed cells or animal models.
We analyzed telomere length, telomere dysfunction-induced foci (TIFs), sister chromatid exchanges (SCE), telomere sister chromatid exchanges (T-SCE), apoptosis and expression of shelterin components TRF1 and TRF2. FANCD2 lymphocytes exhibited multiple types of telomeric abnormalities, including premature telomere shortening, increase in telomeric recombination and aberrant telomeric structures ranging from fragile to long-string extended telomeres. The baseline incidence of SCE in FANCD2 lymphocytes was reduced when compared to control, but in response to diepoxybutane (DEB) the 2-fold higher rate of SCE was observed. In contrast, control lymphocytes showed decreased SCE incidence in response to DEB treatment. FANCD2 fibroblasts revealed a high percentage of TIFs, decreased expression of TRF1 and invariable expression of TRF2. The percentage of TIFs inversely correlated with telomere length, emphasizing that telomere shortening is the major reason for the loss of telomere capping function. Upon irradiation, a significant decrease of TIFs was observed at all recovery times. Surprisingly, a considerable percentage of TIF positive cells disappeared at the same time when incidence of γ-H2AX foci was maximal. Both FANCD2 leucocytes and fibroblasts appeared to die spontaneously at higher rate than control. This trend was more evident upon irradiation; the percentage of leucocytes underwent apoptosis was 2.59- fold higher than that in control, while fibroblasts exhibited a 2- h delay before entering apoptosis.
The results of our study showed that primary cells originating from FA-D2 patients display shorten telomeres, elevated incidence of T-SCEs and high frequency of TIFs. Disappearance of TIFs in early response to irradiation represent distinctive feature of FANCD2 cells that should be examined further.
PMCID: PMC3511208  PMID: 22980747
Primary FA cells; Telomere dysfunction; Expression of TRF1 and TRF2
16.  Stable expression of promyelocytic leukaemia (PML) protein in telomerase positive MCF7 cells results in alternative lengthening of telomeres phenotype 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:5.
Cancer cells can employ telomerase or the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway for telomere maintenance. Cancer cells that use the ALT pathway exhibit distinct phenotypes such as heterogeneous telomeres and specialised Promyelocytic leukaemia (PML) nuclear foci called APBs. In our study, we used wild-type PML and a PML mutant, in which the coiled-coil domain is deleted (PML C/C-), to investigate how these proteins can affect telomere maintenance pathways in cancer cells that use either the telomerase or ALT pathway.
Stable over-expression of both types of PML does not affect the telomere maintenance in the ALT cells. We report novel observations in PML over-expressed telomerase-positive MCF7 cells: 1) APBs are detected in telomerase-positive MCF7 cells following over-expression of wild-type PML and 2) rapid telomere elongation is observed in MCF7 cells that stably express either wild-type PML or PML C/C-. We also show that the telomerase activity in MCF7 cells can be affected depending on the type of PML protein over-expressed.
Our data suggests that APBs might not be essential for the ALT pathway as MCF7 cells that do not contain APBs exhibit long telomeres. We propose that wild-type PML can either definitively dominate over telomerase or enhance the activity of telomerase, and PML C/C- can allow for the co-existence of both telomerase and ALT pathways. Our findings add another dimension in the study of telomere maintenance as the expression of PML alone (wild-type or otherwise) is able to change the dynamics of the telomerase pathway.
PMCID: PMC3447653  PMID: 22925423
17.  Processing of DNA double strand breaks by alternative non-homologous end-joining in hyperacetylated chromatin 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:4.
Mammalian cells employ at least two subpathways of non-homologous end-joining for the repair of ionizing radiation induced DNA double strand breaks: The canonical DNA-PK-dependent form of non-homologous end-joining (D-NHEJ) and an alternative, slowly operating, error-prone backup pathway (B-NHEJ). In contrast to D-NHEJ, which operates with similar efficiency throughout the cell cycle, B-NHEJ operates more efficiently in G2-phase. Notably, B-NHEJ also shows strong and as of yet unexplained dependency on growth activity and is markedly compromised in serum-deprived cells, or in cells that enter the plateau-phase of growth. The molecular mechanisms underpinning this response remain unknown. Since chromatin structure or changes in chromatin structure are prime candidate-B-NHEJ-modulators, we study here the role of chromatin hyperacetylation, either by HDAC2 knockdown or treatment with the HDAC inhibitor TSA, on the repair by B-NHEJ of IR-induced DSBs.
siRNA-mediated knockdown of HDAC2 fails to provoke histone hyperacetylation in Lig4-/- MEFs and has no detectable effect on B-NHEJ function. Treatment with TSA that inhibits multiple HDACs causes efficient, reversible chromatin hyperacetylation in Lig4-/- MEFs, as well as in human HCT116 Lig4-/- cells and the human glioma cell line M059K. The IR yield of DSBs in TSA-treated cells remains similar to that of untreated cells despite the expected chromatin relaxation. In addition, chromatin hyperacetylation leaves unchanged repair of DSBs by B-NHEJ in irradiated exponentially growing, or plateau-phase cells. Notably, under the experimental conditions employed here, chromatin hyperacetylation fails to detectably modulate B-NHEJ in M059K cells as well.
In summary, the results show that chromatin acetylation or deacetylation does not affect the kinetics of alternative NHEJ in all types of cells examined both in exponentially growing and serum deprived cultures. We conclude that parameters beyond chromatin acetylation determine B-NHEJ efficiency in the plateau-phase of growth.
PMCID: PMC3471266  PMID: 22908892
DNA Double strand breaks (DSB); Ionizing radiation (IR); HDAC; Chromatin; Chromatin acetylation; NHEJ
18.  Deficient expression of DNA repair enzymes in early progression to sporadic colon cancer 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:3.
Cancers often arise within an area of cells (e.g. an epithelial patch) that is predisposed to the development of cancer, i.e. a "field of cancerization" or "field defect." Sporadic colon cancer is characterized by an elevated mutation rate and genomic instability. If a field defect were deficient in DNA repair, DNA damages would tend to escape repair and give rise to carcinogenic mutations.
To determine whether reduced expression of DNA repair proteins Pms2, Ercc1 and Xpf (pairing partner of Ercc1) are early steps in progression to colon cancer.
Tissue biopsies were taken during colonoscopies of 77 patients at 4 different risk levels for colon cancer, including 19 patients who had never had colonic neoplasia (who served as controls). In addition, 158 tissue samples were taken from tissues near or within colon cancers removed by resection and 16 tissue samples were taken near tubulovillous adenomas (TVAs) removed by resection. 568 triplicate tissue sections (a total of 1,704 tissue sections) from these tissue samples were evaluated by immunohistochemistry for 4 DNA repair proteins. Substantially reduced protein expression of Pms2, Ercc1 and Xpf occurred in field defects of up to 10 cm longitudinally distant from colon cancers or TVAs and within colon cancers. Expression of another DNA repair protein, Ku86, was infrequently reduced in these areas. When Pms2, Ercc1 or Xpf were reduced in protein expression, then either one or both of the other two proteins most often had reduced protein expression as well. The mean inner colon circumferences, from 32 resections, of the ascending, transverse and descending/sigmoid areas were measured as 6.6 cm, 5.8 cm and 6.3 cm, respectively. When combined with other measurements in the literature, this indicates the approximate mean number of colonic crypts in humans is 10 million.
The substantial deficiencies in protein expression of DNA repair proteins Pms2, Ercc1 and Xpf in about 1 million crypts near cancers and TVAs suggests that the tumors arose in field defects that were deficient in DNA repair and that deficiencies in Pms2, Ercc1 and Xpf are early steps, often occurring together, in progression to colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC3351028  PMID: 22494821
"Colon cancer"; "DNA repair"; Pms2; Ercc1; Xpf; Ku86; "Genomic instability"; Cancerization; "Field defect"; Mutation
19.  Differential regulation of intracellular factors mediating cell cycle, DNA repair and inflammation following exposure to silver nanoparticles in human cells 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:2.
Investigating the cellular and molecular signatures in eukaryotic cells following exposure to nanoparticles will further our understanding on the mechanisms mediating nanoparticle induced effects. This study illustrates the molecular effects of silver nanoparticles (Ag-np) in normal human lung cells, IMR-90 and human brain cancer cells, U251 with emphasis on gene expression, induction of inflammatory mediators and the interaction of Ag-np with cytosolic proteins.
We report that silver nanoparticles are capable of adsorbing cytosolic proteins on their surface that may influence the function of intracellular factors. Gene and protein expression profiles of Ag-np exposed cells revealed up regulation of many DNA damage response genes such as Gadd 45 in both the cell types and ATR in cancer cells. Moreover, down regulation of genes necessary for cell cycle progression (cyclin B and cyclin E) and DNA damage response/repair (XRCC1 and 3, FEN1, RAD51C, RPA1) was observed in both the cell lines. Double strand DNA damage was observed in a dose dependant manner as evidenced in γH2AX foci assay. There was a down regulation of p53 and PCNA in treated cells. Cancer cells in particular showed a concentration dependant increase in phosphorylated p53 accompanied by the cleavage of caspase 3 and PARP. Our results demonstrate the involvement of NFκB and MAP kinase pathway in response to Ag-np exposure. Up regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukins (IL-8, IL-6), macrophage colony stimulating factor, macrophage inflammatory protein in fibroblasts following Ag-np exposure were also observed.
In summary, Ag-np can modulate gene expression and protein functions in IMR-90 cells and U251 cells, leading to defective DNA repair, proliferation arrest and inflammatory response. The observed changes could also be due to its capability to adsorb cytosolic proteins on its surface.
PMCID: PMC3305596  PMID: 22321936
DNA damage; Isothermal titration calorimetry; inflammation
20.  Development and validation of 'AutoRIF': software for the automated analysis of radiation-induced foci 
Genome Integrity  2012;3:1.
The quantification of radiation-induced foci (RIF) to investigate the induction and subsequent repair of DNA double strands breaks is now commonplace. Over the last decade systems specific for the automatic quantification of RIF have been developed for this purpose, however to ask more mechanistic questions on the spatio-temporal aspects of RIF, an automated RIF analysis platform that also quantifies RIF size/volume and relative three-dimensional (3D) distribution of RIF within individual nuclei, is required.
A java-based image analysis system has been developed (AutoRIF) that quantifies the number, size/volume and relative nuclear locations of RIF within 3D nuclear volumes. Our approach identifies nuclei using the dynamic Otsu threshold and RIF by enhanced Laplacian filtering and maximum entropy thresholding steps and, has an application 'batch optimisation' process to ensure reproducible quantification of RIF. AutoRIF was validated by comparing output against manual quantification of the same 2D and 3D image stacks with results showing excellent concordance over a whole range of sample time points (and therefore range of total RIF/nucleus) after low-LET radiation exposure.
This high-throughput automated RIF analysis system generates data with greater depth of information and reproducibility than that which can be achieved manually and may contribute toward the standardisation of RIF analysis. In particular, AutoRIF is a powerful tool for studying spatio-temporal relationships of RIF using a range of DNA damage response markers and can be run independently of other software, enabling most personal computers to perform image analysis. Future considerations for AutoRIF will likely include more complex algorithms that enable multiplex analysis for increasing combinations of cellular markers.
PMCID: PMC3305396  PMID: 22281239
21.  Direct Detection and Sequencing of Damaged DNA Bases 
Genome Integrity  2011;2:10.
Products of various forms of DNA damage have been implicated in a variety of important biological processes, such as aging, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Therefore, there exists great interest to develop methods for interrogating damaged DNA in the context of sequencing. Here, we demonstrate that single-molecule, real-time (SMRT®) DNA sequencing can directly detect damaged DNA bases in the DNA template - as a by-product of the sequencing method - through an analysis of the DNA polymerase kinetics that are altered by the presence of a modified base. We demonstrate the sequencing of several DNA templates containing products of DNA damage, including 8-oxoguanine, 8-oxoadenine, O6-methylguanine, 1-methyladenine, O4-methylthymine, 5-hydroxycytosine, 5-hydroxyuracil, 5-hydroxymethyluracil, or thymine dimers, and show that these base modifications can be readily detected with single-modification resolution and DNA strand specificity. We characterize the distinct kinetic signatures generated by these DNA base modifications.
PMCID: PMC3264494  PMID: 22185597
DNA Damage; Modified Bases; Sequencing
22.  Effects of BRCA2 deficiency on telomere recombination in non-ALT and ALT cells 
Genome Integrity  2011;2:9.
Recent studies suggest that BRCA2 affects telomere maintenance. Interestingly, anti cancer treatments that involve BRCA2 and telomerase individually are currently being explored. In the light of the above recent studies their combinatorial targeting may be justified in the development of future treatments. In order to investigate effects of BRCA2 that can be explored for this combinatorial targeting we focused on the analysis of recombination rates at telomeres by monitoring T-SCEs (Telomere Sister Chromatid Exchanges).
We observed a significant increase in T-SCE frequencies in four BRCA2 defective human cell lines thus suggesting that BRCA2 suppresses recombination at telomeres. To test this hypothesis further we analyzed T-SCE frequencies in a set of Chinese hamster cell lines with or without functional BRCA2. Our results indicate that introduction of functional BRCA2 normalizes frequencies of T-SCEs thus supporting the notion that BRCA2 suppresses recombination at telomeres. Given that ALT (Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres) positive cells maintain telomeres by recombination we investigated the effect of BRCA2 depletion in these cells. Our results show that this depletion causes a dramatic reduction in T-SCE frequencies in ALT positive cells, but not in non-ALT cells.
BRCA2 suppresses recombination at telomeres in cells that maintain them by conventional mechanisms. Furthermore, BRCA2 depletion in ALT positive cells reduces high levels of T-SCEs normally found in these cells. Our results could be potentially important for refining telomerase-based anti-cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3264516  PMID: 22152194
23.  Differential genetic interactions between Sgs1, DNA-damage checkpoint components and DNA repair factors in the maintenance of chromosome stability 
Genome Integrity  2011;2:8.
Genome instability is associated with human cancers and chromosome breakage syndromes, including Bloom's syndrome, caused by inactivation of BLM helicase. Numerous mutations that lead to genome instability are known, yet how they interact genetically is poorly understood.
We show that spontaneous translocations that arise by nonallelic homologous recombination in DNA-damage-checkpoint-defective yeast lacking the BLM-related Sgs1 helicase (sgs1Δ mec3Δ) are inhibited if cells lack Mec1/ATR kinase. Tel1/ATM, in contrast, acts as a suppressor independently of Mec3 and Sgs1. Translocations are also inhibited in cells lacking Dun1 kinase, but not in cells defective in a parallel checkpoint branch defined by Chk1 kinase. While we had previously shown that RAD51 deletion did not inhibit translocation formation, RAD59 deletion led to inhibition comparable to the rad52Δ mutation. A candidate screen of other DNA metabolic factors identified Exo1 as a strong suppressor of chromosomal rearrangements in the sgs1Δ mutant, becoming even more important for chromosomal stability upon MEC3 deletion. We determined that the C-terminal third of Exo1, harboring mismatch repair protein binding sites and phosphorylation sites, is dispensable for Exo1's roles in chromosomal rearrangement suppression, mutation avoidance and resistance to DNA-damaging agents.
Our findings suggest that translocations between related genes can form by Rad59-dependent, Rad51-independent homologous recombination, which is independently suppressed by Sgs1, Tel1, Mec3 and Exo1 but promoted by Dun1 and the telomerase-inhibitor Mec1. We propose a model for the functional interaction between mitotic recombination and the DNA-damage checkpoint in the suppression of chromosomal rearrangements in sgs1Δ cells.
PMCID: PMC3231943  PMID: 22040455
genome instability; translocations; Sgs1; mitotic recombination; DNA-damage checkpoint
24.  Cellular Senescence - its role in cancer and the response to ionizing radiation 
Genome Integrity  2011;2:7.
Cellular senescence is a normal biological process that is initiated in response to a range of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that functions to remove irreparable damage and therefore potentially harmful cells, from the proliferative pool. Senescence can therefore be thought of in beneficial terms as a tumour suppressor. In contrast to this, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that senescence is also associated with the disruption of the tissue microenvironment and development of a pro-oncogenic environment, principally via the secretion of senescence-associated pro-inflammatory factors. The fraction of cells in a senescent state is known to increase with cellular age and from exposure to various stressors including ionising radiation therefore, the implications of the detrimental effects of the senescent phenotype are important to understand within the context of the increasing human exposure to ionising radiation. This review will discuss what is currently understood about senescence, highlighting possible associations between senescence and cancer and, how exposure to ionising radiation may modify this.
PMCID: PMC3169443  PMID: 21834983
Ionising radiation; premature senescence; SASP; inflammation; age-related pathologies
25.  Assessment of genome integrity with array CGH in cattle transgenic cell lines produced by homologous recombination and somatic cell cloning 
Genome Integrity  2011;2:6.
Transgenic cattle carrying multiple genomic modifications have been produced by serial rounds of somatic cell chromatin transfer (cloning) of sequentially genetically targeted somatic cells. However, cloning efficiency tends to decline with the increase of rounds of cloning. It is possible that multiple rounds of cloning compromise the genome integrity or/and introduce epigenetic errors in the resulting cell lines, rendering a decline in cloning. To test these possibilities, we performed 9 high density array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) experiments to test the genome integrity in 3 independent bovine transgenic cell lineages generated from genetic modification and cloning. Our plan included the control hybridizations (self to self) of the 3 founder cell lines and 6 comparative hybridizations between these founders and their derived cell lines with either high or low cloning efficiencies.
We detected similar amounts of differences between the control hybridizations (8, 13 and 39 differences) and the comparative analyses of both "high" and "low" cell lines (ranging from 7 to 57 with a mean of ~20). Almost 75% of the large differences (>10 kb) and about 45% of all differences shared the same type (loss or gain) and were located in nearby genomic regions across hybridizations. Therefore, it is likely that they were not true differences but caused by systematic factors associated with local genomic features (e.g. GC contents).
Our findings reveal that large copy number variations are less likely to arise during genetic targeting and serial rounds of cloning, fortifying the notion that epigenetic errors introduced from serial cloning may be responsible for the cloning efficiency decline.
PMCID: PMC3123262  PMID: 21605421
genome integrity; cattle transgenic cell line; somatic cell cloning; array CGH

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