WRNIP1 protects stalled forks from degradation and promotes fork restart after replication stress

EMBO J. 2016 Jul 1;35(13):1437-51. doi: 10.15252/embj.201593265. Epub 2016 May 30.


Accurate handling of stalled replication forks is crucial for the maintenance of genome stability. RAD51 defends stalled replication forks from nucleolytic attack, which otherwise can threaten genome stability. However, the identity of other factors that can collaborate with RAD51 in this task is poorly elucidated. Here, we establish that human Werner helicase interacting protein 1 (WRNIP1) is localized to stalled replication forks and cooperates with RAD51 to safeguard fork integrity. We show that WRNIP1 is directly involved in preventing uncontrolled MRE11-mediated degradation of stalled replication forks by promoting RAD51 stabilization on ssDNA We further demonstrate that replication fork protection does not require the ATPase activity of WRNIP1 that is however essential to achieve the recovery of perturbed replication forks. Loss of WRNIP1 or its catalytic activity causes extensive DNA damage and chromosomal aberrations. Intriguingly, downregulation of the anti-recombinase FBH1 can compensate for loss of WRNIP1 activity, since it attenuates replication fork degradation and chromosomal aberrations in WRNIP1-deficient cells. Therefore, these findings unveil a unique role for WRNIP1 as a replication fork-protective factor in maintaining genome stability.

Keywords: WRNIP1; genome instability; replication fork arrest; replication fork degradation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • DNA / biosynthesis*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Rad51 Recombinase / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNA
  • RAD51 protein, human
  • Rad51 Recombinase
  • WRNIP1 protein, human
  • ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities