The Fanconi anemia pathway limits the severity of mutagenesis

John M. Hinz, Peter B. Nham, Edmund P. Salazar, Larry H. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Fanconi anemia (FA) is a developmental and cancer predisposition disorder in which key, yet unknown, physiological events promoting chromosome stability are compromised. FA cells exhibit excess metaphase chromatid breaks and are universally hypersensitive to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents. Published mutagenesis data from single-gene mutation assays show both increased and decreased mutation frequencies in FA cells. In this review we discuss the data from the literature and from our isogenic fancg knockout hamster CHO cells, and interpret these data within the framework of a molecular model that accommodates these seemingly divergent observations. In FA cells, reduced rates of recovery of viable X-linked hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (hprt) mutants are characteristically observed for diverse mutagenic agents, but also in untreated cultures, indicating the relevance of the FA pathway for processing assorted DNA lesions. We ascribe these reductions to: (1) impaired mutagenic translesion synthesis within hprt during DNA replication and (2) lethality of mutant cells following replication fork breakage on the X chromosome, caused by unrepaired double-strand breaks or large deletions/translocations encompassing essential genes flanking hprt. These findings, along with studies showing increased spontaneous mutability of FA cells at two autosomal loci, support a model in which FA proteins promote both translesion synthesis at replication-blocking lesions and repair of broken replication forks by homologous recombination and DNA end joining. The essence of this model is that the FANC protein pathway serves to restrict the severity of mutational outcome by favoring base substitutions and small deletions over larger deletions and chromosomal rearrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-884
Number of pages10
JournalDNA Repair
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 13 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA double-strand breaks
  • DNA replication forks
  • Homologous recombinational repair
  • Nonhomologous end joining
  • Spontaneous mutation rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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