Biochemical properties of naturally occurring human bloom helicase variants

PLoS One. 2023 Jun 2;18(6):e0281524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281524. eCollection 2023.


Bloom syndrome helicase (BLM) is a RecQ-family helicase implicated in a variety of cellular processes, including DNA replication, DNA repair, and telomere maintenance. Mutations in human BLM cause Bloom syndrome (BS), an autosomal recessive disorder that leads to myriad negative health impacts including a predisposition to cancer. BS-causing mutations in BLM often negatively impact BLM ATPase and helicase activity. While BLM mutations that cause BS have been well characterized both in vitro and in vivo, there are other less studied BLM mutations that exist in the human population that do not lead to BS. Two of these non-BS mutations, encoding BLM P868L and BLM G1120R, when homozygous, increase sister chromatid exchanges in human cells. To characterize these naturally occurring BLM mutant proteins in vitro, we purified the BLM catalytic core (BLMcore, residues 636-1298) with either the P868L or G1120R substitution. We also purified a BLMcore K869A K870A mutant protein, which alters a lysine-rich loop proximal to the P868 residue. We found that BLMcore P868L and G1120R proteins were both able to hydrolyze ATP, bind diverse DNA substrates, and unwind G-quadruplex and duplex DNA structures. Molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the P868L substitution weakens the DNA interaction with the winged-helix domain of BLM and alters the orientation of one lobe of the ATPase domain. Because BLMcore P868L and G1120R retain helicase function in vitro, it is likely that the increased genome instability is caused by specific impacts of the mutant proteins in vivo. Interestingly, we found that BLMcore K869A K870A has diminished ATPase activity, weakened binding to duplex DNA structures, and less robust helicase activity compared to wild-type BLMcore. Thus, the lysine-rich loop may have an important role in ATPase activity and specific binding and DNA unwinding functions in BLM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bloom Syndrome* / genetics
  • Bloom Syndrome* / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysine
  • Mutant Proteins
  • RecQ Helicases / genetics
  • RecQ Helicases / metabolism


  • Bloom syndrome protein
  • Lysine
  • RecQ Helicases
  • DNA
  • Mutant Proteins

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.5tb2rbp7t