Blm Helicase Facilitates Rapid Replication of Repetitive DNA Sequences in early Drosophila Development
The absence of functional BLM DNA helicase, a member of the RecQ family of helicases, is responsible for the rare human disorder Bloom Syndrome, which results in developmental abnormalities, DNA repair defects, genomic instability, and a predisposition to cancer. In Drosophila melanogaster, the orthologous Blm protein is essential during early development when the embryo is under the control of maternal gene products. A lack of functional maternal Blm during the syncytial cell cycles of
... la embryonic development results in severe nuclear defects and lethality. Amongst the small fraction of embryos from Blm mutant mothers that survive to adulthood, a prominent sex-bias favors the class of flies that inherits less repetitive DNA content, which serves as an endogenous source of replication stress. This selection against repetitive DNA content reflects a role for Blm in facilitating replication through repetitive sequences during the rapid S-phases of syncytial cell cycles. During these syncytial cycles, Blm is not required for complex DNA repair; however, the progeny sex-bias resulting from the absence of maternal Blm is exacerbated by repetitive DNA sequences and by the slowing of replication fork progression, suggesting that the essential role for Blm during this stage is to manage replication fork stress brought about by impediments to fork progression. Additionally, our data suggest that Blm is only required to manage this replication stress during embryonic development, and likely only during the early, rapid syncytial cell cycles, and not at later developmental stages. These results provide novel insights into Blm function throughout development.