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Keywords:

  • DNA repair;
  • UV;
  • trans-lesion polymerases;
  • skin cancers;
  • melanomas;
  • POLH

ABSTRACT

Xeroderma pigmentosum variant (XP-V) is a rare genetic disease, characterized by some sunlight sensitivity and predisposition to cutaneous malignancies. We described clinical and genetic features of the largest collection ever published of 23 XP-V patients (ages between 21 and 86) from 20 unrelated families. Primary fibroblasts from patients showed normal nucleotide excision repair but UV-hypersensitivity in the presence of caffeine, a signature of the XP-V syndrome. 87% of patients developed skin tumors with a median age of 21 for the first occurrence. The median numbers of basal-cell carcinoma was 13 per patient, six for squamous-cell carcinoma, and five for melanoma. XP-V is due to defects in the translesion-synthesis DNA polymerase Polη coded by the POLH gene. DNA sequencing of POLH revealed 29 mutations, where 12 have not been previously identified, leading to truncated polymerases in 69% of patients. Four missense mutations are correlated with the protein stability by structural modeling of the Polη polymerase domain. There is a clear relationship between the types of missense mutations and clinical severity. For truncating mutations, which lead to an absence of or to inactive proteins, the life-cumulated UV exposure is probably the best predictor of cancer incidence, reinforcing the necessity to protect XP-Vs from sun exposure.