WRN (Werner syndrome) is a humangene that provides instructions for producing Werner protein, which is a type of enzyme called a helicase. Helicase enzymes generally unwind and separate double-stranded DNA. These activities are necessary before DNA can be copied in preparation for cell division (DNA replication). Helicase enzymes are also critical for making a blueprint of a gene for protein production, a process called transcription. Further evidence suggests that Werner protein plays a critical role in repairing DNA. Overall, this protein helps maintain the structure and integrity of a person's DNA.
The WRN gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 8 between positions 12 and 11.2, from base pair 31,010,319 to base pair 31,150,818.
Werner syndrome is caused by mutations in the WRN gene. More than 20 mutations in the WRN gene are known to cause Werner syndrome. Many of these mutations result in an abnormally shortened Werner protein. Evidence suggests that the altered protein is not transported into the cell nucleus, where it normally interacts with DNA. This shortened protein may also be broken down too quickly, leading to a loss of Werner protein in the cell. Without normal Werner protein in the nucleus, cells cannot perform the tasks of DNA replication, repair, and transcription. Researchers are still determining how these mutations cause the appearance of premature aging seen in Werner syndrome.
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