The Werner syndrome protein (WRN) is a member of the human RecQ family DNA helicases implicated in the maintenance of genome stability. Loss of WRN gives rise to the Werner syndrome, a genetic disease characterised by premature aging and cancer predisposition. WRN plays a crucial role in the response to replication stress and significantly contributes to the recovery of stalled replication forks, although how this function is regulated is not fully appreciated. There is a growing body of evidence that WRN accomplishes its task in close connection with the replication checkpoint. In eukaryotic cells, the replication checkpoint response, which involves both the ATR and ATM kinase activities, is deputed to the maintenance of fork integrity and re-establishment of fork progression. Our recent findings indicate that ATR and ATM modulate WRN function at defined steps of the response to replication fork arrest. This review focuses on the novel evidence of a functional relationship between WRN and the replication checkpoint and how this cross-talk might contribute to prevent genome instability, a common feature of senescent and cancer cells.
PMID: 21389352 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]