Identification of a coiled coil in Werner syndrome protein that facilitates multimerization and promotes exonuclease processivity

J. Jefferson P Perry, Aroumougame Asaithamby, Adam Barnebey, Foad Kiamanesch, David J. Chen, Seungil Han, John A. Tainer, Steven M. Yannone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Werner syndrome (WS) is a rare progeroid disorder characterized by genomic instability, increased cancer incidence, and early onset of a variety of aging pathologies. WS is unique among early aging syndromes in that affected individuals are developmentally normal, and phenotypic onset is in early adulthood. The protein defective in WS (WRN) is a member of the large RecQ family of helicases but is unique among this family in having an exonuclease. RecQ helicases form multimers, but the mechanism and consequence of multimerization remain incompletely defined. Here, we identify a novel heptad repeat coiled coil region between the WRN nuclease and helicase domains that facilitates multimerization of WRN. We mapped a novel and unique DNA-dependent protein kinase phosphorylation site proximal to the WRN multimerization region. However, phosphorylation at this site affected neither exonuclease activity nor multimericstate. We found that WRN nuclease is stimulated by DNA-dependent protein kinase independently of kinase activity or WRN nuclease multimeric status. In addition, WRN nuclease multimerization significantly increased nuclease processivity. We found that the novel WRN coiled coil domain is necessary for multimerization of the nuclease domain and sufficient to multimerize with full-length WRN in human cells. Importantly, correct homomultimerization is required for WRN function in vivo as overexpression of this multimerization domain caused increased sensitivity to camptothecin and 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide similar to that in cells lacking functional WRN protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25699-25707
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 13 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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