Mechanisms controlling DNA damage survival and mutation rates in budding yeast

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Umeå university

Sammanfattning: All living organisms are made of cells, within which genetic information is stored on long strands of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The DNA encodes thousands of different genes and provides the blueprint for all of the structures and activities occurring within the cell. The building blocks of DNA are the four deoxyribonucleotides, dATP, dGTP, dTTP, and dCTP, which are collectively referred to as dNTPs.The key enzyme in the production of dNTPs is ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the concentrations of the individual dNTPs are not equal and it is primarily RNR that maintains this balance. Maintenance of the dNTP pool balance is critical for accurate DNA replication and DNA repair since elevated and/or imbalanced dNTP concentrations increase the mutation rate and can ultimately lead to genomic instability and cancer. In response to DNA damage, the overall dNTP concentration in S. cerevisiae increases. Cell survival rates increase as a result of the elevated concentration of dNTPs, but the cells also suffer from a concomitant increase in mutation rates. When the replication machinery encounters DNA damage that it cannot bypass, the replication fork stalls and recruits specialized translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerases that bypass the damage so that replication can continue. We hypothesized that elevated dNTP levels in response to DNA damage may allow the TLS polymerases to more efficiently bypass DNA damage. To explore this possibility, we deleted all known TLS polymerases in a yeast strain in which we could artificially increase the dNTP concentrations. Surprisingly, even though all TLS polymerases had been deleted, elevated dNTP concentrations led to increased cell survival after DNA damage. These results suggest that replicative DNA polymerases may be involved in the bypass of certain DNA lesions under conditions of elevated dNTPs. We confirmed this hypothesis in vitro by demonstrating that high dNTP concentrations result in an increased efficiency in the bypass of certain DNA lesions by DNA polymerase epsilon, a replicative DNA polymerase not normally associated with TLS activity.We asked ourselves if it would be possible to create yeast strains with imbalanced dNTP concentrations in vivo, and, if so, would these imbalances be recognized by the checkpoint control mechanisms in the cell. To address these questions, we focused on the highly conserved loop2 of the allosteric specificity site of yeast Rnr1p. We introduced several mutations into RNR1-loop2 that resulted in changes in the amino acid sequence of the protein.Each of the rnr1-loop2 mutation strains obtained had different levels of individual dNTPs relative to the others. Interestingly, all of the imbalanced dNTP concentrations led to increased mutation rates, but these mutagenic imbalances did not activate the S-phase checkpoint unless one or several dNTPs were present at concentrations that were too low to sustain DNA replication. We were able to use these mutant yeast strains to successfully correlate amino acid substitutions within loop2 of Rnr1p to specific ratios of dNTP concentrations in the cells. We also demonstrated that specific imbalances between the individual dNTP levels result in unique mutation spectra. These mutation spectra suggest that the mutagenesis that results from imbalanced dNTP pools is due to a decrease in fidelity of the replicative DNA polymerases at specific DNA sequences where they are more likely to make a mistake. The mutant rnr1-loop2 strains that we have created with defined dNTP pool imbalances will be of great value for in vivo studies of polymerase fidelity, translesion synthesis by specialized DNA polymerases, and lesion recognition by the DNA repair machinery.