Pandita, T. K. and Dhar, S. Influence of ATM Function on Interactions between Telomeres and Nuclear Matrix.
The ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) gene product has been implicated in mitogenic signal transduction, chromosome condensation, meiotic recombination, and cell cycle control. The human ATM protein shows similarity to several yeast and mammalian proteins involved in meiotic recombination and cell cycle progression. Because of the homology of the human ATM gene to the TEL1 and rad3 genes of yeast, it has been suggested that mutations in ATM could lead to defective telomere maintenance. Recently, we have shown that the ATM gene product, which is defective in the cancer-prone disorder ataxia telangiectasia (AT), influences chromosome end associations and telomere length. A possible hypothesis explaining these results is that the defective telomere metabolism in AT cells is due to altered interactions between the telomeres and the nuclear matrix. These interactions were examined in nuclear matrix halos prior to and after irradiation. A difference was observed in the ratio of soluble and matrix-associated telomeric DNA between cells derived from AT and normal individuals. Treatment with ionizing radiation affected the ratio of soluble and matrix-associated telomeric DNA only in the AT cells. To test the hypothesis that the ATM gene product is involved in interactions between telomeres and the nuclear matrix, such interactions were examined in human cells expressing either a dominant-negative effect or complementation of the ATM gene. The phenotype of RKO colorectal tumor cells expressing ATM fragments containing a leucine zipper motif mimics the altered interactions of telomere and nuclear matrix seen in AT cells. Fibroblasts from AT individuals transfected with a wild-type ATM gene had corrected telomere–nuclear matrix interactions. In experiments designed to determine whether there is a link between the altered telomere–nuclear matrix interactions and defective telomere movement and clustering, a significant difference was observed in the ratio of soluble compared to matrix-associated telomeric DNA sequences in meiocytes of Atm–/– and control mice. These results suggest that the ATM gene influences the interactions between telomeres and the nuclear matrix and that alterations in telomere chromatin could be at least partly responsible for the pleiotropic phenotypes of the ATM gene. This paper summarizes our recent publications on the influence of inactivation of ATM on the interaction of telomeres with nuclear matrix in somatic and germ cells.