Almost 20 incurable neurodegenerative disorders are caused by trinucleotide repeat (TNR) expansion beyond a certain threshold, with disease time of onset and severity positively correlating with repeat length. Typically, long TNRs display a bias toward further expansion and repeats continue to expand not only during germline transmissions from parents to offspring, but also remain highly unstable in somatic tissues of patients. Hence, understanding TNR instability mechanisms sheds light on underlying disease pathology. Recently, we showed that activated ATR is the major signal for convergent-transcription-induced cell death at CAG repeats and is regulated by the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. Additionally, components of other DNA repair pathways such as transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair (TC-NER) and R-loop resolution by RNaseH reduce cell death. Because activated ATR signals the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway of interstrand crosslink DNA repair, we asked whether the FA pathway also modulates convergent-transcription-induced cell death at expanded CAG repeats. We show here that siRNA knockdown of FA components-FANCI, FANCJ, FANCM, FANCA, and FANCD2-decreases cell death, suggesting that FA proteins, like MMR proteins, are activators of cell death during convergent transcription.
Keywords: Fanconi anemia; cell death; convergent transcription; neurodegenerative diseases; trinucleotide repeat instability.