JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fanconi anemia cells with unrepaired DNA damage activate components of the checkpoint recovery process

Alfredo Rodríguez, Leda Torres, Ulises Juárez, David Sosa, Eugenio Azpeitia, Benilde García-de Teresa, Edith Cortés, Rocío Ortíz, Ana M Salazar, Patricia Ostrosky-Wegman, Luis Mendoza, Sara Frías
Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling 2015, 12: 19
26385365

BACKGROUND: The FA/BRCA pathway repairs DNA interstrand crosslinks. Mutations in this pathway cause Fanconi anemia (FA), a chromosome instability syndrome with bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition. Upon DNA damage, normal and FA cells inhibit the cell cycle progression, until the G2/M checkpoint is turned off by the checkpoint recovery, which becomes activated when the DNA damage has been repaired. Interestingly, highly damaged FA cells seem to override the G2/M checkpoint. In this study we explored with a Boolean network model and key experiments whether checkpoint recovery activation occurs in FA cells with extensive unrepaired DNA damage.

METHODS: We performed synchronous/asynchronous simulations of the FA/BRCA pathway Boolean network model. FA-A and normal lymphoblastoid cell lines were used to study checkpoint and checkpoint recovery activation after DNA damage induction. The experimental approach included flow cytometry cell cycle analysis, cell division tracking, chromosome aberration analysis and gene expression analysis through qRT-PCR and western blot.

RESULTS: Computational simulations suggested that in FA mutants checkpoint recovery activity inhibits the checkpoint components despite unrepaired DNA damage, a behavior that we did not observed in wild-type simulations. This result implies that FA cells would eventually reenter the cell cycle after a DNA damage induced G2/M checkpoint arrest, but before the damage has been fixed. We observed that FA-A cells activate the G2/M checkpoint and arrest in G2 phase, but eventually reach mitosis and divide with unrepaired DNA damage, thus resolving the initial checkpoint arrest. Based on our model result we look for ectopic activity of checkpoint recovery components. We found that checkpoint recovery components, such as PLK1, are expressed to a similar extent as normal undamaged cells do, even though FA-A cells harbor highly damaged DNA.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that FA cells, despite extensive DNA damage, do not loss the capacity to express the transcriptional and protein components of checkpoint recovery that might eventually allow their division with unrepaired DNA damage. This might allow cell survival but increases the genomic instability inherent to FA individuals and promotes cancer.

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