Impaired replication stress response in cells from immunodeficiency patients carrying cernunnos/XLF mutations

Michal Schwartz*, Yifat S. Oren, Assaf C. Bester, Ayelet Rahat, Ruthy Sfez, Shlomo Yitzchaik, Jean Pierre de Villartay, Batsheva Kerem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ) is one of the two major pathways of DNA Double Strand Breaks (DSBs) repair. Mutations in human NHEJ genes can lead to immunodeficiency due to its role in V(D)J recombination in the immune system. In addition, most patients carrying mutations in NHEJ genes display developmental anomalies which are likely the result of a general defect in repair of endogenously induced DSBs such as those arising during normal DNA replication. Cernunnos/XLF is a recently identified NHEJ gene which is mutated in immunodeficiency with microcephaly patients. Here we aimed to investigate whether Cernunnos/ XLF mutations disrupt the ability of patient cells to respond to replication stress conditions. Our results demonstrate that Cernunnos/ XLF mutated cells and cells downregulated for Cernunnos/XLF have increased sensitivity to conditions which perturb DNA replication. In addition, under replication stress, these cells exhibit impaired DSB repair and increased accumulation of cells in G2/M. Moreover Cernunnos/ XLF mutated and down regulated cells display greater chromosomal instability, particularly at fragile sites, under replication stress conditions. These results provide evidence for the role of Cernunnos/XLF in repair of DSBs and maintenance of genomic stability under replication stress conditions. This is the first study of a NHEJ syndrome showing association with impaired cellular response to replication stress conditions. These findings may be related to the clinical features in these patients which are not due to the V(D)J recombination defect. Additionally, in light of the emerging important role of replication stress in the early stages of cancer development, our findings may provide a mechanism for the role of NHEJ in preventing tumorigenesis.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere4516
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - 18 Feb 2009


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