The WWOX gene spans the common chromosomal fragile site FRA16D that is located within a massive (780 kb) intron. The WWOX gene is very long, at 1.1 Mb, which may contribute to the very low abundance of the full-length 1.4 kb mRNA. Alternative splicing also accounts for a variety of aberrant transcripts, most of which are devoid of C-terminal sequences required for WWOX to act as an oxidoreductase. The mouse WWOX gene also spans a chromosomal fragile site implying some sort of functional relationship that confers a selective advantage. The encoded protein domains of WWOX are conserved through evolution (between humans and Drosophila melanogaster) and include WW domains, an NAD -binding site, short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase enzyme and nuclear compartmentalization signals. This homology has enabled functional analyses in D. melanogaster that demonstrate roles for WWOX in reactive oxygen species regulation and metabolism. Indeed the human WWOX gene is also responsive to altered metabolism. Cancer cells typically exhibit altered metabolism (Warburg effect). Many cancers exhibit FRA16D DNA instability that results in aberrant WWOX expression and is associated with poor prognosis for these cancers. It is therefore thought that aberrant WWOX expression contributes to the altered metabolism in cancer. In addition, others have found that a specific (low-expression) allele of WWOX genotype contributes to cancer predisposition.
- Chromosomal fragile site
- altered metabolism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)