Non-homologous end-joining defect in fanconi anemia hematopoietic cells exposed to ionizing radiation

Radiat Res. 2005 Nov;164(5):635-41. doi: 10.1667/rr3395.1.


Fanconi anemia is a genetically heterogeneous recessive disease characterized mainly by bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition. Although it is accepted that Fanconi cells are highly sensitive to DNA crosslinking agents, their response to ionizing radiation is still unclear. Using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, we have observed that radiation generates a similar number of DNA double-strand breaks in normal and Fanconi cells from three (FA-A, FA-C and FA-F) of the 11 complementation groups identified. Nonsynchronized as well as nonproliferating Fanconi anemia cells showed an evident defect in rejoining the double-strand breaks generated by ionizing radiation, indicating defective non-homologous end-joining repair. At the cellular level, no difference in the radiosensitivity of normal and FA-A lymphoblast cells was noted, and a modest increase in the radiosensitivity of Fanca-/- hematopoietic progenitor cells was observed compared to Fanca+/+ cells. Finally, when animals were exposed to a fractionated total-body irradiation of 5 Gy, a similar hematopoietic syndrome was observed in wild-type and Fanca-/- mice. Taken together, our observations suggest that Fanconi cells, in particular those having nonfunctional Fanconi proteins upstream of FANCD2, have a defect in the non-homologous end-joining repair of double-strand breaks produced by ionizing radiation, and that compensatory mechanisms of DNA repair and/or stem cell regeneration should limit the impact of this defect in irradiated organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • Fanconi Anemia / genetics*
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group D2 Protein / physiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Radiation Tolerance


  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group D2 Protein