Common fragile sites in colon cancer cell lines: Role of mismatch repair, RAD51 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1

Patrizia Vernole, Alessia Muzi, Antonio Volpi, Alessandro Terrinoni, Annalisa Susanna Dorio, Lucio Tentori, Girish M. Shah, Grazia Graziani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Common fragile sites (CFS) are specific chromosomal areas prone to form gaps and breaks when cells are exposed to stresses that affect DNA synthesis, such as exposure to aphidicolin (APC), an inhibitor of DNA polymerases. The APC-induced DNA damage is repaired primarily by homologous recombination (HR), and RAD51, one of the key players in HR, participates to CFS stability. Since another DNA repair pathway, the mismatch repair (MMR), is known to control HR, we examined the influence of both the MMR and HR DNA repair pathways on the extent of chromosomal damage and distribution of CFS provoked by APC and/or by RAD51 silencing in MMR-deficient and -proficient colon cancer cell lines (i.e., HCT-15 and HCT-15 transfected with hMSH6, or HCT-116 and HCT-116/3+6, in which a part of a chromosome 3 containing the wild-type hMLH1 allele was inserted). Here, we show that MMR-deficient cells are more sensitive to APC-induced chromosomal damage particularly at the CFS as compared to MMR-proficient cells, indicating an involvement of MMR in the control of CFS stability. The most expressed CFS is FRA16D in 16q23, an area containing the tumour suppressor gene WWOX often mutated in colon cancer. We also show that silencing of RAD51 provokes a higher number of breaks in MMR-proficient cells with respect to their MMR-deficient counterparts, likely as a consequence of the combined inhibitory effects of RAD51 silencing on HR and MMR-mediated suppression of HR. The RAD51 silencing causes a broader distribution of breaks at CFS than that observed with APC. Treatment with APC of RAD51-silenced cells further increases DNA breaks in MMR-proficient cells. The RNAi-mediated silencing of PARP-1 does not cause chromosomal breaks or affect the expression/distribution of CFS induced by APC. Our results indicate that MMR modulates colon cancer sensitivity to chromosomal breaks and CFS induced by APC and RAD51 silencing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2011


  • Aphidicolin
  • Colon cancer
  • Common fragile sites
  • Mismatch repair
  • PARP-1
  • RAD51

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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