WRN-1 is the Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the human Werner syndrome protein, a RecQ helicase, mutations of which are associated with premature aging and increased genome instability. Relatively little is known as to how WRN-1 functions in DNA repair and DNA damage signaling. Here, we take advantage of the genetic and cytological approaches in C. elegans to dissect the epistatic relationship of WRN-1 in various DNA damage checkpoint pathways. We found that WRN-1 is required for CHK1 phosphorylation induced by DNA replication inhibition, but not by UV radiation. Furthermore, WRN-1 influences the RPA-1 focus formation, suggesting that WRN-1 functions in the same step or upstream of RPA-1 in the DNA replication checkpoint pathway. In response to ionizing radiation, RPA-1 focus formation and nuclear localization of ATM depend on WRN-1 and MRE-11. We conclude that C. elegans WRN-1 participates in the initial stages of checkpoint activation induced by DNA replication inhibition and ionizing radiation. These functions of WRN-1 in upstream DNA damage signaling are likely to be conserved, but might be cryptic in human systems due to functional redundancy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research