The PSO3 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was molecularly cloned by complementing the cold-sensitivity phenotype of a pso3-1 mutant and was found to be allelic to RNR4, encoding one of the two DNA damage-inducible small subunits of the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) complex. Compared to a rnr4Delta mutant that allows only very little mutation induction at very low doses of 254(nm) ultraviolet light (UVC), the pso3-1 mutant allele confers leakiness in that it permits some DNA damage-induced mutagenesis at low doses of UVC. Similarly, the pso3 mutant is slightly less sensitive to UVC than an rnr4Delta mutant. Cloning and sequencing of the RNR4 locus of the pso3-1 mutant revealed that its intermediate phenotype is attributable to a G --> A transition at nucleotide 352, leading to replacement of glycine by arginine [G118R] in the mutant's protein. Both RNR4 mutant alleles confer significantly less sensitivity to UVC than mutant alleles of non-UVC-mutable REV3, indicating that, apart from nucleotide excision repair, RAD6-dependent error-free DNA repair may still be functional. The phenotype of a strongly reduced UVC-induced mutagenesis for rnr4 mutant alleles has not yet been described; it suggests the importance of this gene for a fully functional RNR providing correct amounts of DNA precursor molecules, thereby, allowing translesion synthesis (error-prone) of UVC-damaged DNA. Stationary phase cells of the rnr4Delta mutant, but not of the original pso3-1 mutant, are swollen with a fourfold to eightfold increase in volume. The central role of RNR in DNA precursor metabolism and its complex regulation allow for several modes of suppression that may influence the phenotypes of RNR4 mutants, especially those containing the leaky pso3-1 mutant allele.
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