Length-dependent degradation of single-stranded 3' ends by the Werner syndrome protein (WRN): implications for spatial orientation and coordinated 3' to 5' movement of its ATPase/helicase and exonuclease domains
BACKGROUND: The cancer-prone and accelerated aging disease Werner syndrome is caused by loss of function of the WRN gene product that possesses ATPase, 3' to 5' helicase and 3' to 5' exonuclease activities. Although WRN has been most prominently suggested to function in telomere maintenance, resolution of replication blockage and/or recombinational repair, its exact role in DNA metabolism remains unclear. WRN is the only human RecQ family member to possess both helicase and exonuclease activity, but the mechanistic relationship between these activities is unknown. In this study, model single-stranded and 3' overhang DNA substrates of varying length and structure were used to examine potential coordination between the ATPase/helicase and exonuclease activities of WRN.
RESULT: Our results show that WRN can not only bind to but also catalyze the 3' to 5' degradation of single-stranded and 3' overhang DNA substrates, structures that were previously thought to be refractory to WRN exonuclease activity. The length of the single-stranded regions in these structures is a critical parameter in determining both the binding affinity and the level of exonuclease activity of WRN. Most importantly, specific nucleotide cofactors dramatically stimulate WRN exonuclease activity on these substrates, with conditions that permit ATP hydrolysis not only resulting in enhanced exonuclease activity but also altering its length dependence on these structures. Parallel experiments show that a deletion mutant containing only the WRN exonuclease domain lacks both this DNA length and nucleotide cofactor dependence, demonstrating that the interaction of the ATPase/helicase domain of WRN with the DNA substrate has a profound influence on exonuclease activity.
CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that, under conditions that permit ATP hydrolysis, there is a dynamic and cooperative relationship between the distinct ATPase/helicase and exonuclease domains of WRN with regard to their orientation on DNA. Based on these results, models are proposed for the coordinated, unidirectional 3' to 5' movement of the helicase and exonuclease domains of WRN on DNA that should be informative for elucidating its function in genome maintenance.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Machwe, Amrita; Xiao, Liren; and Orren, David K., "Length-dependent degradation of single-stranded 3' ends by the Werner syndrome protein (WRN): implications for spatial orientation and coordinated 3' to 5' movement of its ATPase/helicase and exonuclease domains" (2006). Toxicology and Cancer Biology Faculty Publications. 15.