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. 2007 Jan 3;614(1-2):48-55.
doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2006.06.006. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Protecting Genomic Integrity in Somatic Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells


Protecting Genomic Integrity in Somatic Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells

Y Hong et al. Mutat Res. .


Mutation frequencies at some loci in mammalian somatic cells in vivo approach 10(-4). The majority of these events occur as a consequence of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) due to mitotic recombination. Such high levels of DNA damage in somatic cells, which can accumulate with age, will cause injury and, after a latency period, may lead to somatic disease and ultimately death. This high level of DNA damage is untenable for germ cells, and by extrapolation for embryonic stem (ES) cells, that must recreate the organism. ES cells cannot tolerate such a high frequency of damage since mutations will immediately impact the altered cell, and subsequently the entire organism. Most importantly, the mutations may be passed on to future generations. ES cells, therefore, must have robust mechanisms to protect the integrity of their genomes. We have examined two such mechanisms. Firstly, we have shown that mutation frequencies and frequencies of mitotic recombination in ES cells are about 100-fold lower than in adult somatic cells or in isogenic mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). A second complementary protective mechanism eliminates those ES cells that have acquired a mutational burden, thereby maintaining a pristine population. Consistent with this hypothesis, ES cells lack a G1 checkpoint, and the two known signaling pathways that mediate the checkpoint are compromised. The checkpoint kinase, Chk2, which participates in both pathways is sequestered at centrosomes in ES cells and does not phosphorylate its substrates (i.e. p53 and Cdc25A) that must be modified to produce a G1 arrest. Ectopic expression of Chk2 does not rescue the p53-mediated pathway, but does restore the pathway mediated by Cdc25A. Wild type ES cells exposed to ionizing radiation do not accumulate in G1 but do so in S-phase and in G2. ES cells that ectopically express Chk2 undergo cell cycle arrest in G1 as well as G2, and appear to be protected from apoptosis.

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