Investigation of the functional link between ATM and NBS1 in the DNA damage response in the mouse cerebellum

Inbal Dar, Galit Yosha, Ronen Elfassy, Ronit Galron, Zhao Qi Wang, Yosef Shiloh, Ari Barzilai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) and Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS) are related genomic instability syndromes characterized by neurological deficits. The NBS1 protein that is defective in NBS is a component of the Mre11/RAD50/NBS1 (MRN) complex, which plays a major role in the early phase of the complex cellular response to double strand breaks (DSBs) in the DNA. Among others, Mre11/RAD50/NBS1 is required for timely activation of the protein kinase ATM (A-T, mutated), which is missing or inactivated in patients with A-T. Understanding the molecular pathology of A-T, primarily its cardinal symptom, cerebellar degeneration, requires investigation of the DSB response in cerebellar neurons, particularly Purkinje cells, which are the first to be lost in A-T patients. Cerebellar cultures derived from mice with different mutations in DNA damage response genes is a useful experimental system to study malfunctioning of the damage response in the nervous system. To clarify the interrelations between murine Nbs1 and Atm, we generated a mouse strain with specific disruption of the Nbs1 gene in the central nervous system on the background of general Atm deficiency (Nbs1-CNS-Δ//Atm-/-). This genotype exacerbated several features of both conditions and led to a markedly reduced life span, dramatic decline in the number of cerebellar granule neurons with considerable cerebellar disorganization, abolishment of the white matter, severe reduction in glial cell proliferation, and delayed DSB repair in cerebellar tissue. Combined loss of Nbs1 and Atm in the CNS significantly abrogated the DSB response compared with the single mutation genotypes. Importantly, the data indicate that Atm has cellular roles not regulated by Nbs1 in the murine cerebellum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15361-15376
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - 29 Apr 2011


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