Fanconi anemia (FA) is an autosomal recessive disorder associated with pancytopenia and cancer susceptibility. The disorder is heterogenous, with at least nine complementation groups having been identified. Several recent studies have suggested that defective plasmid DNA end-joining is a consistent feature of FA cells. It was therefore surprising to discover a strain of fibroblasts from an FA patient that possessed wild-type plasmid DNA end-joining activity. Unlike other FA strains, these fibroblasts have wild-type levels of homologous DNA recombination activity and are relatively insensitive to restriction endonuclease-induced death. Interestingly, while end-joining in a number of FA fibroblast strains belonging to complementation groups A, C, and D2 was approximately 70% precise, end-joining in this latter strain of fibroblasts was more than 95% imprecise. Analysis revealed that these latter cells harbored an allele of the FA C gene, referred to as 322delG, that encodes an amino-terminal truncated protein. The relative rarity of this allele precluded the analysis of other FA fibroblast strains; however, studies revealed that overexpression of this allele in normal cells recapitulated the DNA end-joining phenotype seen in the 322delG FA fibroblast strain. These results indicate that DNA end-joining in fibroblasts expressing the 322delG allele of the FA-C gene in fibroblasts is highly imprecise; however, the DNA repair efficiency of these cells is more normal than that commonly associated with FA fibroblasts. This conclusion is intriguing, since a number of reports have suggested that patients harboring this allele exhibit a milder clinical course than do individuals with other alleles of the FA-C gene.
- DNA repair
- Fanconi anemia