The ERCC2/XPD protein participates in nucleotide excision repair (NER), and is employed in unwinding the DNA double helix after damage is initially recognized. NER is a multi-step pathway that removes a wide range of different damages that distort normal base pairing. Such damages include bulky chemical adducts, UV-induced pyrimidine dimers, and several forms of oxidative damage. Mutations in the ERCC2/XPD gene can lead to various syndromes, either xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), trichothiodystrophy (TTD) or a combination of XP and TTD (XPTTD), or a combination of XP and Cockayne syndrome (XPCS). TTD and CS both display features of premature aging. These features may include sensorineural deafness, retinal degeneration, white matter hypomethylation, central nervous system calcification, reduced stature, and cachexia (loss of subcutaneous fat tissue). XPCS and TTD fibroblasts from ERCC2/XPD mutant human and mouse show evidence of defective repair of oxidative DNA damages that may underlie the segmental progeroid (premature aging) symptoms (see DNA damage theory of aging).
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