Expression of ATM in ataxia telangiectasia fibroblasts rescues defects in DNA double-strand break repair in nuclear extracts

Yuling Li, Michael P. Carty, Gregory G. Oakley, Michael M. Seidman, Mario Medvedovic, Kathleen Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) is a human genetic disorder characterized by progressive cerebellar degeneration, hypersensitivity to ionizing radiation (IR), immunodeficiency, and high cancer risk. At the cellular level, IR sensitivity and increased frequency of spontaneous and IR-induced chromosomal breakage and rearrangements are the hallmarks of A-T. The ATM gene, mutated in this syndrome, has been cloned and codes for a protein sharing homology with DNA-PKcs, a protein kinase involved in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair and DNA damage responses. The characteristics of the A-T cellular phenotypes and ATM gene suggest that ATM may play a role similar to that of DNA-PKcs in DSB repair and that there is a primary DNA repair defect in A-T cells. In the current study, the function of ATM in DNA DSB repair was evaluated in an in vitro system using two plasmids, carrying either an EcoRI-induced DSB within the lacZα gene or various endonuclease-induced DSB in the SupF suppressor tRNA gene. We found that the DSB repair efficiency in A-T nuclear extracts was comparable to, if not higher than, that in normal nuclear extracts. However, the repair fidelity in A-T nuclear extracts was decreased when repairing DSB with short 5′ and 3′ overhangs (<4 base pairs (bp)) or blunt ends, but not 5′ 4-bp overhangs. Sequencing of the mutant plasmids revealed that deletions involving 1-6 nucleotide microhomologies were the major class of mutations in both A-T and normal extracts. However, the size of the deletions in plasmids from A-T nuclear extracts was larger than that from normal nuclear extracts. Expression of the ATM protein in A-T cells corrected the defect in DSB repair in A-T nuclear extracts. These results suggest that ATM plays a role in maintaining genomic stability by preventing the repair of DSB from an error-prone pathway. 2001.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-140
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Ataxia telangiectasia
  • Deletion mutatian
  • Double-strand break repair
  • Nuclear extracts
  • Plasmid vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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