Previous work has shown that in cells from the ultravioletsensitive genetic disorder, Cockayne's syndrome, DNA synthesis fails to recover after ultraviolet irradiation, despite the fact that these cells have no detectable defect in either excision or daughter-strand repair pathways. We now show that Cockayne cells, as well as cells from a number of patients with xeroderma pigmentosum, are sensitive to the lethal effects of UV irradiation in stationary phase under conditions in which no DNA is synthesized after irradiation. Furthermore, in normal and defective human fibroblasts, RNA synthesis is depressed after UV irradiation. In normal (dividing) cells, RNA synthesis recovers very rapidly, but this recovery does not occur in Cockayne cells, and it is reduced or absent in xeroderma pigmentosum cells from different complementation groups. Qualitatively, similar results are obtained with cells in stationary phase. The recovery of RNA synthesis in the various defective cell strains is not correlated with the overal extent of excision repair, but there is some correlation between recovery of RNA synthesis and cell survival after ultraviolet irradiation. These results implicate recovery of RNA synthesis as an important early response to ultraviolet irradiation.


Work supported in part by Euratom Grant 166-76-1-B10-UK.

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