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Synthetically lethal interactions classify novel genes in postreplication repair in Saccharomyces cerevisiae



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Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are equipped with DNA repair mechanisms to protect the integrity of their genome in case of DNA damage. In the eukaryotic organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae, MMS2 encodes a ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme variant protein belonging to the RAD6 repair pathway; MMS2 functions in error-free postreplication repair (PRR), a subpathway parallel to REV3 mutagenesis. A mutation in MMS2 does not result in extreme sensitivity to DNA damaging agents; however, deletion of both subpathways of PRR results in a synergistic phenotype. By taking advantage of the synergism between error-free PRR and mutagenesis pathway mutations, a conditional synthetic lethal screen was used to identify novel genes genetically involved in PRR. A synthetic lethal screen was modified to use extremely low doses of MMS that would not affect the growth of single mutants, but would effectively kill the double mutants. Fifteen potential mutants were characterized, of which twelve were identified as known error-prone PRR genes. Characterization of mutations in strains SLM-9 and SLM-11, that are conditionally synthetically lethal with mms2Ä, revealed functions for both checkpoints and mating-type heterozygosity in regulating PRR. Cell cycle checkpoints monitor the integrity of the genome and ensure that cell cycle progression is deferred until chromosome damage is repaired. The checkpoint genes genetically interact with both the error-free and error-prone branches of PRR, potentially for delaying cell cycle progression to allow time for DNA repair, and for signaling the stage of the cell cycle and thus DNA content. Other potential monitors for DNA content are the a1 and á2 proteins encoded by the mating type genes MATa and MATá, respectively. Diploid cells heterozygous for mating type (a/á) show an increased resistance to UV damage and are more recombination-proficient than haploid cells. Haploid PRR mutants expressing both mating type genes show an increased resistance to DNA-damaging agents. This phenomenon is specific to PRR: it was not seen in excision repair-deficient and recombination-deficient mutants tested. The rescuing effect seen in PRR mutants heterozygous for mating type is likely the result of channeling lesions into a recombination repair pathway and away from the non-operational PRR pathway. Both checkpoint and mating type genes play a role in regulating PRR. Almost certainly these genes are required to monitor the cell cycle stage and DNA content to determine the best mechanism to repair the damaged DNA thus preventing genomic instability.



DNA repair, synthetic lethal, postreplication repair, mms2



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Microbiology and Immunology


Microbiology and Immunology


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