Bloom Syndrome


Bloom syndrome is an autosomal recessive inherited disorder characterized by sort stature, sun-sensitivity, hyperpigmented skin and predisposition to a wide range of different types of cancer.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • RecQ Helicases
  • Bloom Syndrome
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Heterozygote
  • DNA Repair
  • Genomic Instability
  • DNA Helicases
  • Aplastic Anaemia
  • Mutation
  • Ataxia-telangiectasia
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Adolescents
  • Cultured Cells
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Phenotype
  • Karyotyping
  • DNA Damage
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cell Cycle
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Genetic Crossing Over
  • Genetic Recombination
  • DNA Replication
  • Chromosome Banding
  • RMI1
  • Cell Line
  • Fibroblasts
  • Xeroderma Pigmentosum
  • Oncogenes
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Cockayne Syndrome
  • BLM
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • WRN
  • Tumor Markers
  • Fanconi Anaemia
  • Cell Division
  • B-Lymphocytes
Tag cloud generated 08 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Mutated Genes and Abnormal Protein Expression (4)

How to use this data tableClicking on the Gene or Topic will take you to a separate more detailed page. Sort this list by clicking on a column heading e.g. 'Gene' or 'Topic'.

BLM 15q26.1 BS, RECQ2, RECQL2, RECQL3 Germline
-BLM mutations in Bloom Syndrome
WRN 8p12 RECQ3, RECQL2, RECQL3 -WRN and Bloom Syndrome
RMI1 9q21.32 BLAP75, FAAP75, C9orf76 -RMI1 and Bloom Syndrome
RMI2 16p13.13 BLAP18, C16orf75 -RMI2 and Bloom Syndrome

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Useful Links (7 links)

Latest Publications

Monnat RJ
"...Rewritten in the skin": clues to skin biology and aging from inherited disease.
J Invest Dermatol. 2015; 135(6):1484-90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
The growing diversity of heritable skin diseases, a practical challenge to clinicians and dermato-nosologists alike, has nonetheless served as a rich source of insight into skin biology and disease mechanisms. I summarize below some key insights from the recent gene-driven phase of research on Werner syndrome, a heritable adult progeroid syndrome with prominent dermatologic features, constitutional genomic instability, and an elevated risk of cancer. I also indicate how new insights into skin biology, disease, and aging may come from unexpected sources.

Owen N, Hejna J, Rennie S, et al.
Bloom syndrome radials are predominantly non-homologous and are suppressed by phosphorylated BLM.
Cytogenet Genome Res. 2014; 144(4):255-63 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Biallelic mutations in BLM cause Bloom syndrome (BS), a genome instability disorder characterized by growth retardation, sun sensitivity and a predisposition to cancer. As evidence of decreased genome stability, BS cells demonstrate not only elevated levels of spontaneous sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs), but also exhibit chromosomal radial formation. The molecular nature and mechanism of radial formation is not known, but radials have been thought to be DNA recombination intermediates between homologs that failed to resolve. However, we find that radials in BS cells occur over 95% between non-homologous chromosomes, and occur non-randomly throughout the genome. BLM must be phosphorylated at T99 and T122 for certain cell cycle checkpoints, but it is not known whether these modifications are necessary to suppress radial formation. We find that exogenous BLM constructs preventing phosphorylation at T99 and T122 are not able to suppress radial formation in BS cells, but are able to inhibit SCE formation. These findings indicate that BLM functions in 2 distinct pathways requiring different modifications. In one pathway, for which the phosphorylation marks appear dispensable, BLM functions to suppress SCE formation. In a second pathway, T99 and T122 phosphorylations are essential for suppression of chromosomal radial formation, both those formed spontaneously and those formed following interstrand crosslink damage.

Chatterjee S, Zagelbaum J, Savitsky P, et al.
Mechanistic insight into the interaction of BLM helicase with intra-strand G-quadruplex structures.
Nat Commun. 2014; 5:5556 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the RecQ family helicase BLM that is associated with growth retardation and predisposition to cancer. BLM helicase has a high specificity for non-canonical G-quadruplex (G4) DNA structures, which are formed by G-rich DNA strands and play an important role in the maintenance of genomic integrity. Here we used single-molecule FRET to define the mechanism of interaction of BLM helicase with intra-stranded G4 structures. We show that the activity of BLM is substrate dependent, and highly regulated by a short-strand DNA (ssDNA) segment that separates the G4 motif from double-stranded DNA. We demonstrate cooperativity between the RQC and HRDC domains of BLM during binding and unfolding of the G4 structure, where the RQC domain interaction with G4 is stabilized by HRDC binding to ssDNA. We present a model that proposes a unique role for G4 structures in modulating the activity of DNA processing enzymes.

Ben Salah G, Hadj Salem I, Masmoudi A, et al.
A novel frameshift mutation in BLM gene associated with high sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) in heterozygous family members.
Mol Biol Rep. 2014; 41(11):7373-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Bloom syndrome (BS) is an autosomic recessive disorder comprising a wide range of abnormalities, including stunted growth, immunodeficiency, sun sensitivity and increased frequency of various types of cancer. Bloom syndrome cells display a high level of genetic instability, including a 10-fold increase in the sister chromatid exchanges (SCE) level. Bloom syndrome arises through mutations in both alleles of the BLM gene, which was identified as a member of the RecQ helicase family. In this study, we screened a Tunisian family with three BS patients. Cytogenetic analysis showed several chromosomal aberrations, and an approximately 14-fold elevated SCE frequency in BS cells. A significant increase in SCE frequency was observed in some family members but not reaching the BS patients values, leading to suggest that this could be due to the heterozygous profile. Microsatellite genotyping using four fluorescent dye-labeled microsatellite markers revealed evidence of linkage to BLM locus and the healthy members, sharing higher SCE frequency, showed heterozygous haplotypes as expected. Additionally, the direct BLM gene sequencing identified a novel homozygous frameshift mutation c.3617-3619delAA (p.K1207fsX9) in BS patients and a heterozygous BLM mutation in the family members with higher SCE frequency. Our findings suggest that this latter mutation likely leads to a reduced BLM activity explaining the homologous recombination repair defect and, therefore, the increase in SCE. Based on the present data, the screening of this mutation could contribute to the rapid diagnosis of BS. The genetic confirmation of the mutation in BLM gene provides crucial information for genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis.

Nguyen GH, Tang W, Robles AI, et al.
Regulation of gene expression by the BLM helicase correlates with the presence of G-quadruplex DNA motifs.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(27):9905-10 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by genetic instability and cancer predisposition, and caused by mutations in the gene encoding the Bloom syndrome, RecQ helicase-like (BLM) protein. To determine whether altered gene expression might be responsible for pathological features of Bloom syndrome, we analyzed mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) expression in fibroblasts from individuals with Bloom syndrome and in BLM-depleted control fibroblasts. We identified mRNA and miRNA expression differences in Bloom syndrome patient and BLM-depleted cells. Differentially expressed mRNAs are connected with cell proliferation, survival, and molecular mechanisms of cancer, and differentially expressed miRNAs target genes involved in cancer and in immune function. These and additional altered functions or pathways may contribute to the proportional dwarfism, elevated cancer risk, immune dysfunction, and other features observed in Bloom syndrome individuals. BLM binds to G-quadruplex (G4) DNA, and G4 motifs were enriched at transcription start sites (TSS) and especially within first introns (false discovery rate ≤ 0.001) of differentially expressed mRNAs in Bloom syndrome compared with normal cells, suggesting that G-quadruplex structures formed at these motifs are physiologic targets for BLM. These results identify a network of mRNAs and miRNAs that may drive the pathogenesis of Bloom syndrome.

Swan MK, Legris V, Tanner A, et al.
Structure of human Bloom's syndrome helicase in complex with ADP and duplex DNA.
Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2014; 70(Pt 5):1465-75 [PubMed] Related Publications
Bloom's syndrome is an autosomal recessive genome-instability disorder associated with a predisposition to cancer, premature aging and developmental abnormalities. It is caused by mutations that inactivate the DNA helicase activity of the BLM protein or nullify protein expression. The BLM helicase has been implicated in the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway, which is essential for the limitless replication of some cancer cells. This pathway is used by 10-15% of cancers, where inhibitors of BLM are expected to facilitate telomere shortening, leading to apoptosis or senescence. Here, the crystal structure of the human BLM helicase in complex with ADP and a 3'-overhang DNA duplex is reported. In addition to the helicase core, the BLM construct used for crystallization (residues 640-1298) includes the RecQ C-terminal (RQC) and the helicase and ribonuclease D C-terminal (HRDC) domains. Analysis of the structure provides detailed information on the interactions of the protein with DNA and helps to explain the mechanism coupling ATP hydrolysis and DNA unwinding. In addition, mapping of the missense mutations onto the structure provides insights into the molecular basis of Bloom's syndrome.

Arora H, Chacon AH, Choudhary S, et al.
Bloom syndrome.
Int J Dermatol. 2014; 53(7):798-802 [PubMed] Related Publications
Bloom Syndrome (BS, MIM #210900) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder caused by a mutation in the BLM gene, which codes for the DNA repair enzyme RecQL3 helicase. Without proper DNA repair mechanisms, abnormal DNA exchange takes place between sister chromatids and results in genetic instability that may lead to cancer, especially lymphoma and acute myelogenous leukemia, lower and upper gastrointestinal tract neoplasias, cutaneous tumors, and neoplasias in the genitalia and urinary tract. BS patients are usually of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and exhibit narrow facial features, elongated limbs, and several dermatologic complications including photosensitivity, poikiloderma, and telangiectatic erythema. The most concerning manifestation of BS is multiple malignancies, which require frequent screenings and strict vigilance by the physician. Therefore, distinguishing between BS and other dermatologic syndromes of similar presentation such as Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome, Erythropoietic Protoporphyria, and Cockayne Syndrome is paramount to disease management and to prolonging life. BS can be diagnosed through a variety of DNA sequencing methods, and genetic testing is available for high-risk populations. This review consolidates several sources on BS sequelae and aims to suggest the importance of differentiating BS from other dermatologic conditions. This paper also elucidates the recently discovered BRAFT and FANCM protein complexes that link BS and Fanconi anemia.

Iqbal MA, Siddiqui FA, Chaman N, et al.
Missense mutations in pyruvate kinase M2 promote cancer metabolism, oxidative endurance, anchorage independence, and tumor growth in a dominant negative manner.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(12):8098-105 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
The present study was designed to examine the functional relevance of two heterozygous mutations (H391Y and K422R), observed earlier by us in the Bloom syndrome condition. Cells stably expressing exogenous wild-type or mutant PKM2 (K422R or H391Y) or co-expressing both wild type and mutant (PKM2-K422R or PKM2-H391Y) were assessed for cancer metabolism and tumorigenic potential. Interestingly, cells co-expressing PKM2 and mutant (K422R or H391Y) showed significantly aggressive cancer metabolism as compared with cells expressing either wild-type or mutant PKM2 independently. A similar trend was observed for oxidative endurance, tumorigenic potential, cellular proliferation, and tumor growth. These observations signify the dominant negative nature of mutations. Remarkably, PKM2-H391Y co-expressed cells showed a maximal effect on all the studied parameters. Such a dominant negative impaired function of PKM2 in tumor development is not known; this study demonstrates for the first time the possible predisposition of Bloom syndrome patients with impaired PKM2 activity to cancer and the importance of studying genetic variations in PKM2 in the future to understand their relevance in cancer in general.

Ben Salah G, Salem IH, Masmoudi A, et al.
Chromosomal instability associated with a novel BLM frameshift mutation (c.1980-1982delAA) in two unrelated Tunisian families with Bloom syndrome.
J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2014; 28(10):1318-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Bloom syndrome (BS) is an autosomal recessive disorder associated with dwarfism, immunodeficiency, reduced fertility and cancer risk. BS cells show genomic instability, particularly an hyper exchange between the sister chromatids due to a defective processing of the DNA replication intermediates. It is caused by mutations in the BLM gene which encodes a member of the RecQ family of DExH box DNA helicases. In this study, we reported cytogenetic, BLM linkage and mutational analyses for two affected Tunisian families. The Cytogenetic parameters were performed by chromosomal aberration (CA) and sister chromatid exchange (SCE) assays and results showed a significant increase in mean frequency of CA and SCE in BS cells. BLM linkage performed by microsatellite genotyping revealed homozygous haplotypes for the BS patients, evidence of linkage to BLM gene. Mutational analysis by direct DNA sequencing revealed a novel frameshift mutation (c.1980-1982delAA) in exon 8 of BLM gene, resulting in a truncated protein (p.Lys662fsX5). The truncated protein could explain genomic instability and its related symptoms in the BS patients. The screening of this mutation is useful for BS diagnosis confirmation in Tunisian families.

Yamanishi A, Yusa K, Horie K, et al.
Enhancement of microhomology-mediated genomic rearrangements by transient loss of mouse Bloom syndrome helicase.
Genome Res. 2013; 23(9):1462-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom syndrome, an autosomal recessive disorder of the BLM gene, confers predisposition to a broad spectrum of early-onset cancers in multiple tissue types. Loss of genomic integrity is a primary hallmark of such human malignancies, but many studies using disease-affected specimens are limited in that they are retrospective and devoid of an appropriate experimental control. To overcome this, we devised an experimental system to recapitulate the early molecular events in genetically engineered mouse embryonic stem cells, in which cells undergoing loss of heterozygosity (LOH) can be enriched after inducible down-regulation of Blm expression, with or without site-directed DNA double-strand break (DSB) induction. Transient loss of BLM increased the rate of LOH, whose breakpoints were distributed along the chromosome. Combined with site-directed DSB induction, loss of BLM synergistically increased the rate of LOH and concentrated the breakpoints around the targeted chromosomal region. We characterized the LOH events using specifically tailored genomic tools, such as high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization and high-density single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping, revealing that the combination of BLM suppression and DSB induction enhanced genomic rearrangements, including deletions and insertions, whose breakpoints were clustered in genomic inverted repeats and associated with junctional microhomologies. Our experimental approach successfully uncovered the detailed molecular mechanisms of as-yet-uncharacterized loss of heterozygosities and reveals the significant contribution of microhomology-mediated genomic rearrangements, which could be widely applicable to the early steps of cancer formation in general.

Manthei KA, Keck JL
The BLM dissolvasome in DNA replication and repair.
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013; 70(21):4067-84 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
RecQ DNA helicases are critical for proper maintenance of genomic stability, and mutations in multiple human RecQ genes are linked with genetic disorders characterized by a predisposition to cancer. RecQ proteins are conserved from prokaryotes to humans and in all cases form higher-order complexes with other proteins to efficiently execute their cellular functions. The focus of this review is a conserved complex that is formed between RecQ helicases and type-I topoisomerases. In humans, this complex is referred to as the BLM dissolvasome or BTR complex, and is comprised of the RecQ helicase BLM, topoisomerase IIIα, and the RMI proteins. The BLM dissolvasome functions to resolve linked DNA intermediates without exchange of genetic material, which is critical in somatic cells. We will review the history of this complex and highlight its roles in DNA replication, recombination, and repair. Additionally, we will review recently established interactions between BLM dissolvasome and a second set of genome maintenance factors (the Fanconi anemia proteins) that appear to allow coordinated genome maintenance efforts between the two systems.

Wan L, Han J, Liu T, et al.
Scaffolding protein SPIDR/KIAA0146 connects the Bloom syndrome helicase with homologous recombination repair.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013; 110(26):10646-51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
The Bloom syndrome gene product, BLM, is a member of the highly conserved RecQ family. An emerging concept is the BLM helicase collaborates with the homologous recombination (HR) machinery to help avoid undesirable HR events and to achieve a high degree of fidelity during the HR reaction. However, exactly how such coordination occurs in vivo is poorly understood. Here, we identified a protein termed SPIDR (scaffolding protein involved in DNA repair) as the link between BLM and the HR machinery. SPIDR independently interacts with BLM and RAD51 and promotes the formation of a BLM/RAD51-containing complex of biological importance. Consistent with its role as a scaffolding protein for the assembly of BLM and RAD51 foci, cells depleted of SPIDR show increased rate of sister chromatid exchange and defects in HR. Moreover, SPIDR depletion leads to genome instability and causes hypersensitivity to DNA damaging agents. We propose that, through providing a scaffold for the cooperation of BLM and RAD51 in a multifunctional DNA-processing complex, SPIDR not only regulates the efficiency of HR, but also dictates the specific HR pathway.

Suhasini AN, Brosh RM
Disease-causing missense mutations in human DNA helicase disorders.
Mutat Res. 2013 Apr-Jun; 752(2):138-52 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Helicases have important roles in nucleic acid metabolism, and their prominence is marked by the discovery of genetic disorders arising from disease-causing mutations. Missense mutations can yield unique insight to molecular functions and basis for disease pathology. XPB or XPD missense mutations lead to Xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne's syndrome, Trichothiodystrophy, or COFS syndrome, suggesting that DNA repair and transcription defects are responsible for clinical heterogeneity. Complex phenotypes are also observed for RECQL4 helicase mutations responsible for Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, Baller-Gerold syndrome, or RAPADILINO. Bloom's syndrome causing missense mutations are found in the conserved helicase and RecQ C-terminal domain of BLM that interfere with helicase function. Although rare, patient-derived missense mutations in the exonuclease or helicase domain of Werner syndrome protein exist. Characterization of WRN separation-of-function mutants may provide insight to catalytic requirements for suppression of phenotypes associated with the premature aging disorder. Characterized FANCJ missense mutations associated with breast cancer or Fanconi anemia interfere with FANCJ helicase activity required for DNA repair and the replication stress response. For example, a FA patient-derived mutation in the FANCJ Iron-Sulfur domain was shown to uncouple its ATPase and translocase activity from DNA unwinding. Mutations in DDX11 (ChlR1) are responsible for Warsaw Breakage syndrome, a recently discovered autosomal recessive cohesinopathy. Ongoing and future studies will address clinically relevant helicase mutations and polymorphisms, including those that interfere with key protein interactions or exert dominant negative phenotypes (e.g., certain mutant alleles of Twinkle mitochondrial DNA helicase). Chemical rescue may be an approach to restore helicase activity in loss-of-function helicase disorders. Genetic and biochemical analyses of disease-causing missense mutations in human helicase disorders have led to new insights to the molecular defects underlying aberrant cellular and clinical phenotypes.

Rezazadeh S
On BLM helicase in recombination-mediated telomere maintenance.
Mol Biol Rep. 2013; 40(4):3049-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
Bloom syndrome (BS) is an extremely rare, autosomal recessive genetic syndrome of humans. Patients with BS are predisposed to almost all forms of cancer and also display premature aging phenotypes. These patients are diagnosed in the clinics by hyper-recombination phenotype that is manifested by high rates of sister chromatid exchange. The gene mutated in BS, designated BLM, lies on chromosome 15q26.1 and encodes a RecQ-like ATP-dependent 3'-5' helicase, which functions in DNA double-strand break repair processes such as non-homologous end joining, homologous recombination-mediated repair, resolution of stalled replication forks and synthesis-dependent strand annealing, although its precise functions at the telomeres are speculative. Recently it has been suggested that the BLM helicase may play important roles in Telomerase-independent forms of telomere elongation or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). A mechanism that although provides cells with a window of opportunity to save ends of their chromosomes, puts these Telomerase (-/-) cells under continuous stress. BLM localization within ALT-associated PML nuclear bodies in telomerase-negative immortalized cell lines and its interaction with the telomere-specific proteins strengthens that suggestion. Here, I begin by outlining features common to all RecQ helicases. I, then, survey evidences that implicate possible roles of BLM helicase in this recombination-mediated mechanism of telomere elongation.

Grierson PM, Acharya S, Groden J
Collaborating functions of BLM and DNA topoisomerase I in regulating human rDNA transcription.
Mutat Res. 2013 Mar-Apr; 743-744:89-96 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom's syndrome (BS) is an inherited disorder caused by loss of function of the recQ-like BLM helicase. It is characterized clinically by severe growth retardation and cancer predisposition. BLM localizes to PML nuclear bodies and to the nucleolus; its deficiency results in increased intra- and inter-chromosomal recombination, including hyper-recombination of rDNA repeats. Our previous work has shown that BLM facilitates RNA polymerase I-mediated rRNA transcription in the nucleolus (Grierson et al., 2012 [18]). This study uses protein co-immunoprecipitation and in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) to identify a direct interaction of DNA topoisomerase I with the C-terminus of BLM in the nucleolus. In vitro helicase assays demonstrate that DNA topoisomerase I stimulates BLM helicase activity on a nucleolar-relevant RNA:DNA hybrid, but has an insignificant effect on BLM helicase activity on a control DNA:DNA duplex substrate. Reciprocally, BLM enhances the DNA relaxation activity of DNA topoisomerase I on supercoiled DNA substrates. Our study suggests that BLM and DNA topoisomerase I function coordinately to modulate RNA:DNA hybrid formation as well as relaxation of DNA supercoils in the context of nucleolar transcription.

Mirzaei H, Schmidt KH
Non-Bloom syndrome-associated partial and total loss-of-function variants of BLM helicase.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012; 109(47):19357-62 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom syndrome (BS) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the RecQ-like DNA helicase BLM, which functions in the maintenance of genome stability. Using a humanized model of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that expresses a chimera of the N terminus of yeast Sgs1 and the C terminus of human BLM from the chromosomal SGS1 locus, we have functionally evaluated 27 BLM alleles that are not currently known to be associated with BS. We identified nine alleles with impaired function when assessed for hypersensitivity to the DNA-damaging agent hydroxyurea (HU). Six of these alleles (P690L, R717T, W803R, Y811C, F857L, G972V) caused sensitivity to HU that was comparable to known BS-associated or helicase-dead alleles, suggesting that they may cause BS and, in the heterozygous state, act as risk factors for cancerogenesis. We also identified three alleles (R791C, P868L, G1120R) that caused intermediate sensitivity to HU; although unlikely to cause BS, these partial loss-of-function alleles may increase risk for cancers or other BS-associated complications if a person is homozygous or compound heterozygous for these alleles or if they carry a known BS-associated allele.

Suhasini AN, Brosh RM
Fanconi anemia and Bloom's syndrome crosstalk through FANCJ-BLM helicase interaction.
Trends Genet. 2012; 28(1):7-13 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Fanconi anemia (FA) and Bloom's syndrome (BS) are rare hereditary chromosomal instability disorders. FA displays bone marrow failure, acute myeloid leukemia, and head and neck cancers, whereas BS is characterized by growth retardation, immunodeficiency, and a wide spectrum of cancers. The BLM gene mutated in BS encodes a DNA helicase that functions in a protein complex to suppress sister-chromatid exchange. Of the 15 FA genetic complementation groups implicated in interstrand crosslink repair, FANCJ encodes a DNA helicase involved in recombinational repair and replication stress response. Based on evidence that BLM and FANCJ interact we suggest that crosstalk between BLM and FA pathways is more complex than previously thought. We propose testable models for how FANCJ and BLM coordinate to help cells deal with stalled replication forks or double-strand breaks (DSB). Understanding how BLM and FANCJ cooperate will help to elucidate an important pathway for maintaining genomic stability.

Chabosseau P, Buhagiar-Labarchède G, Onclercq-Delic R, et al.
Pyrimidine pool imbalance induced by BLM helicase deficiency contributes to genetic instability in Bloom syndrome.
Nat Commun. 2011; 2:368 [PubMed] Related Publications
Defects in DNA replication are associated with genetic instability and cancer development, as illustrated in Bloom syndrome. Features of this syndrome include a slowdown in replication speed, defective fork reactivation and high rates of sister chromatid exchange, with a general predisposition to cancer. Bloom syndrome is caused by mutations in the BLM gene encoding a RecQ helicase. Here we report that BLM deficiency is associated with a strong cytidine deaminase defect, leading to pyrimidine pool disequilibrium. In BLM-deficient cells, pyrimidine pool normalization leads to reduction of sister chromatid exchange frequency and is sufficient for full restoration of replication fork velocity but not the fork restart defect, thus identifying the part of the Bloom syndrome phenotype because of pyrimidine pool imbalance. This study provides new insights into the molecular basis of control of replication speed and the genetic instability associated with Bloom syndrome. Nucleotide pool disequilibrium could be a general phenomenon in a large spectrum of precancerous and cancer cells.

Guo G, Huang Y, Humphreys P, et al.
A PiggyBac-based recessive screening method to identify pluripotency regulators.
PLoS One. 2011; 6(4):e18189 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Phenotype driven genetic screens allow unbiased exploration of the genome to discover new biological regulators. Bloom syndrome gene (Blm) deficient embryonic stem (ES) cells provide an opportunity for recessive screening due to frequent loss of heterozygosity. We describe a strategy for isolating regulators of mammalian pluripotency based on conversion to homozygosity of PiggyBac gene trap insertions combined with stringent selection for differentiation resistance. From a screen of 2000 mutants we obtained a disruptive integration in the Tcf3 gene. Homozygous Tcf3 mutants showed impaired differentiation and enhanced self-renewal. This phenotype was reverted in a dosage sensitive manner by excision of one or both copies of the gene trap. These results provide new evidence confirming that Tcf3 is a potent negative regulator of pluripotency and validate a forward screening methodology to identify modulators of pluripotent stem cell biology.

Ying S, Hickson ID
Fanconi anaemia proteins are associated with sister chromatid bridging in mitosis.
Int J Hematol. 2011; 93(4):440-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
The maintenance of genome stability is critical for the suppression of cancer and premature ageing. The maintenance of the human genome requires hundreds of proteins involved in DNA repair, DNA replication, chromosome segregation and cell cycle checkpoint responses. A number of genetic disorders exist in man where a breakdown in genome maintenance is associated with cancer predisposition. Amongst these are Bloom's syndrome (BS) and Fanconi anaemia (FA). The BS and FA gene products co-operate in the repair of damaged DNA. In this review, we focus on interactions between BS and FA proteins that specifically occur during chromosome segregation in mitosis. The BS protein, BLM, was shown recently to define a novel class of anaphase DNA bridge structures that, in some cases, also contain FA proteins. We will discuss the possible source of these bridges and the role that FA proteins and BLM might play in their removal.

Wechsler T, Newman S, West SC
Aberrant chromosome morphology in human cells defective for Holliday junction resolution.
Nature. 2011; 471(7340):642-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
In somatic cells, Holliday junctions can be formed between sister chromatids during the recombinational repair of DNA breaks or after replication fork demise. A variety of processes act upon Holliday junctions to remove them from DNA, in events that are critical for proper chromosome segregation. In human cells, the BLM protein, inactivated in individuals with Bloom's syndrome, acts in combination with topoisomerase IIIα, RMI1 and RMI2 (BTR complex) to promote the dissolution of double Holliday junctions. Cells defective for BLM exhibit elevated levels of sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and patients with Bloom's syndrome develop a broad spectrum of early-onset cancers caused by chromosome instability. MUS81-EME1 (refs 4-7), SLX1-SLX4 (refs 8-11) and GEN1 (refs 12, 13) also process Holliday junctions but, in contrast to the BTR complex, do so by endonucleolytic cleavage. Here we deplete these nucleases from Bloom's syndrome cells to analyse human cells compromised for the known Holliday junction dissolution/resolution pathways. We show that depletion of MUS81 and GEN1, or SLX4 and GEN1, from Bloom's syndrome cells results in severe chromosome abnormalities, such that sister chromatids remain interlinked in a side-by-side arrangement and the chromosomes are elongated and segmented. Our results indicate that normally replicating human cells require Holliday junction processing activities to prevent sister chromatid entanglements and thereby ensure accurate chromosome condensation. This phenotype was not apparent when both MUS81 and SLX4 were depleted from Bloom's syndrome cells, suggesting that GEN1 can compensate for their absence. Additionally, we show that depletion of MUS81 or SLX4 reduces the high frequency of SCEs in Bloom's syndrome cells, indicating that MUS81 and SLX4 promote SCE formation, in events that may ultimately drive the chromosome instabilities that underpin early-onset cancers associated with Bloom's syndrome.

Wang Y, Smith K, Waldman BC, Waldman AS
Depletion of the bloom syndrome helicase stimulates homology-dependent repair at double-strand breaks in human chromosomes.
DNA Repair (Amst). 2011; 10(4):416-26 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Mutation of BLM helicase causes Blooms syndrome, a disorder associated with genome instability, high levels of sister chromatid exchanges, and cancer predisposition. To study the influence of BLM on double-strand break (DSB) repair in human chromosomes, we stably transfected a normal human cell line with a DNA substrate that contained a thymidine kinase (tk)-neo fusion gene disrupted by the recognition site for endonuclease I-SceI. The substrate also contained a closely linked functional tk gene to serve as a recombination partner for the tk-neo fusion gene. We derived two cell lines each containing a single integrated copy of the DNA substrate. In these cell lines, a DSB was introduced within the tk-neo fusion gene by expression of I-SceI. DSB repair events that occurred via homologous recombination (HR) or nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) were recovered by selection for G418-resistant clones. DSB repair was examined under conditions of either normal BLM expression or reduced BLM expression brought about by RNA interference. We report that BLM knockdown in both cell lines specifically increased the frequency of HR events that produced deletions by crossovers or single-strand annealing while leaving the frequency of gene conversions unchanged or reduced. We observed no change in the accuracy of individual HR events and no substantial alteration of the nature of individual NHEJ events when BLM expression was reduced. Our work provides the first direct evidence that BLM influences DSB repair pathway choice in human chromosomes and suggests that BLM deficiency can engender genomic instability by provoking an increased frequency of HR events of a potentially deleterious nature.

Suhasini AN, Rawtani NA, Wu Y, et al.
Interaction between the helicases genetically linked to Fanconi anemia group J and Bloom's syndrome.
EMBO J. 2011; 30(4):692-705 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Bloom's syndrome (BS) and Fanconi anemia (FA) are autosomal recessive disorders characterized by cancer and chromosomal instability. BS and FA group J arise from mutations in the BLM and FANCJ genes, respectively, which encode DNA helicases. In this work, FANCJ and BLM were found to interact physically and functionally in human cells and co-localize to nuclear foci in response to replication stress. The cellular level of BLM is strongly dependent upon FANCJ, and BLM is degraded by a proteasome-mediated pathway when FANCJ is depleted. FANCJ-deficient cells display increased sister chromatid exchange and sensitivity to replication stress. Expression of a FANCJ C-terminal fragment that interacts with BLM exerted a dominant negative effect on hydroxyurea resistance by interfering with the FANCJ-BLM interaction. FANCJ and BLM synergistically unwound a DNA duplex substrate with sugar phosphate backbone discontinuity, but not an 'undamaged' duplex. Collectively, the results suggest that FANCJ catalytic activity and its effect on BLM protein stability contribute to preservation of genomic stability and a normal response to replication stress.

Bergeron KL, Murphy EL, Brown LW, Almeida KH
Critical interaction domains between bloom syndrome protein and RAD51.
Protein J. 2011; 30(1):1-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
The American Cancer Society's 2009 statistics estimate that 1 out of every 4 deaths is cancer related. Genomic instability is a common feature of cancerous states, and an increase in genomic instability is the diagnostic feature of Bloom Syndrome. Bloom Syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by a predisposition to cancer, is caused by mutations of the BLM gene. This study focuses on the partnerships of BLM protein to RAD51, a Homologous Recombination repair protein essential for survival. A systematic set of BLM deletion fragments were generated to refine the protein binding domains of BLM to RAD51 and determine interacting regions of BLM and ssDNA. Results show that RAD51 and ssDNA interact in overlapping regions; BLM₁₀₀₋₂₁₄ and BLM₁₃₁₇₋₁₃₆₇. The overlapping nature of these regions suggests a preferential binding for one partner that could function to regulate homologous recombination and therefore helps to clarify the role of BLM in maintaining genomic stability.

Mirzaei H, Syed S, Kennedy J, Schmidt KH
Sgs1 truncations induce genome rearrangements but suppress detrimental effects of BLM overexpression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
J Mol Biol. 2011; 405(4):877-91 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
RecQ-like DNA helicases are conserved from bacteria to humans. They perform functions in the maintenance of genome stability, and their mutation is associated with cancer predisposition and premature aging syndromes in humans. Here, a series of C-terminal deletions and point mutations of Sgs1, the only RecQ-like helicase in yeast, show that the Helicase/RNase D C-terminal domain and the Rad51 interaction domain are dispensable for Sgs1's role in suppressing genome instability, whereas the zinc-binding domain and the helicase domain are required. BLM expression from the native SGS1 promoter had no adverse effects on cell growth and was unable to complement any sgs1Δ defects. BLM overexpression, however, significantly increased the rate of accumulating gross-chromosomal rearrangements in a dosage-dependent manner and greatly exacerbated sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents. Co-expressing sgs1 truncations of up to 900 residues, lacking all known functional domains of Sgs1, suppressed the hydroxyurea sensitivity of BLM-overexpressing cells, suggesting a functional relationship between Sgs1 and BLM. Protein disorder prediction analysis of Sgs1 and BLM was used to produce a functional Sgs1-BLM chimera by replacing the N-terminus of BLM with the disordered N-terminus of Sgs1. The functionality of this chimera suggests that it is the disordered N-terminus, a site of protein binding and posttranslational modification, that confers species specificity to these two RecQ-like proteins.

Blagoev KB, Goodwin EH, Bailey SM
Telomere sister chromatid exchange and the process of aging.
Aging (Albany NY). 2010; 2(10):727-30 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Telomeres are a hotspot for sister chromatid exchange (T-SCE). Any biological consequence of this form of instability remained obscure until quantitative modeling revealed a link between elevated T-SCE rates and accelerated cellular replicative senescence. This work strongly suggests that progressive telomere erosion is not the only determinant of replicative capacity; instead, T-SCE need to be considered as an independent factor controlling colony growth and senescence. Additionally high T-SCE rates have been observed in cells with deficiencies in WRN and BLM, the genes that are defective in Werner's and Bloom's syndromes, implying a connection to premature aging. In this Research Perspective we will explore some of the implications this recent work has for human health.

Monnat RJ
Human RECQ helicases: roles in DNA metabolism, mutagenesis and cancer biology.
Semin Cancer Biol. 2010; 20(5):329-39 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 28/02/2016 Related Publications
Helicases use the energy of ATP hydrolysis to separate double-stranded nucleic acids to facilitate essential processes such as replication, recombination, transcription and repair. This article focuses on the human RECQ helicase gene and protein family. Loss of function of three different members has been shown to cause Bloom syndrome (BS), Werner syndrome (WS) and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS). This article outlines clinical and cellular features of these cancer predisposition syndromes, and discusses their pathogenesis in light of our understanding of RECQ helicase biochemical activities and in vivo functions. I also discuss the emerging role for RECQ helicases as predictors of disease risk and the response to therapy.

Popp HD, Bohlander SK
Genetic instability in inherited and sporadic leukemias.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2010; 49(12):1071-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
Genetic instability due to increased DNA damage and altered DNA repair is of central significance in the initiation and progression of inherited and sporadic human leukemias. Although very rare, some inherited DNA repair insufficiency syndromes (e.g., Fanconi anemia, Bloom's syndrome) have added substantially to our understanding of crucial mechanisms of leukemogenesis in recent years. Conversely, sporadic leukemias account for the main proportion of leukemias and here DNA damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a central role. Although the exact mechanisms of increased ROS production remain largely unknown and no single pathway has been detected thus far, some oncogenic proteins (e.g., the activated tyrosine kinases BCR-ABL1 and FLT3-ITD) seem to play a key role in driving genetic instability by increased ROS generation which influences the disease course (e.g., blast crisis in chronic myeloid leukemia or relapse in FLT3-ITD positive acute myeloid leukemia). Of course other mechanisms, which promote genetic instability in leukemia also exist. A newly emerging mechanism is the genome-wide alteration of epigenetic marks (e.g., hypomethylation of histone H3K79), which promotes chromosomal instability. Taken together genetic instability plays a critical role both in inherited and sporadic leukemias and emerges as a common theme in both inherited and sporadic leukemias. Beyond its theoretical impact, the analysis of genetic instability may lead the way to the development of innovative therapy strategies.

Petermann E, Helleday T
Pathways of mammalian replication fork restart.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2010; 11(10):683-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Single-molecule analyses of DNA replication have greatly advanced our understanding of mammalian replication restart. Several proteins that are not part of the core replication machinery promote the efficient restart of replication forks that have been stalled by replication inhibitors, suggesting that bona fide fork restart pathways exist in mammalian cells. Different models of replication fork restart can be envisaged, based on the involvement of DNA helicases, nucleases, homologous recombination factors and the importance of DNA double-strand break formation.

Sato A, Mishima M, Nagai A, et al.
Solution structure of the HRDC domain of human Bloom syndrome protein BLM.
J Biochem. 2010; 148(4):517-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Bloom syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by severe growth retardation and cancer predisposition. The disease is caused by a loss of function of the Bloom syndrome protein (BLM), a member of the RecQ family of DNA helicases. Here we report on the first 3D structure of a BLM fragment, a solution structure of the C-terminal helicase-and-ribonuclease D-C-terminal (HRDC) domain from human BLM. The structure reveals unique features of BLM HRDC that are distinct from the HRDC domain of Werner syndrome protein. In particular, BLM HRDC retains many acidic residues exposed to the solvent, which makes the domain surface extensively electronegative. Consistent with this, fluorescence polarization assays showed an inability of isolated BLM HRDC to interact with DNA substrates. Analyses employing ultracentrifugation, gel-filtration, CD spectroscopy and dynamic light scattering showed that the BLM HRDC domain exists as a stable monomer in solution. The results show that BLM HRDC is a compact, robust and acidic motif which may play a distinct role apart from DNA binding.

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