Reference: Sundararajan R and Freudenreich CH (2011) Expanded CAG/CTG Repeat DNA Induces a Checkpoint Response That Impacts Cell Proliferation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. PLoS Genet 7(3):e1001339

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Abstract


Repetitive DNA elements are mutational hotspots in the genome, and their instability is linked to various neurological disorders and cancers. Although it is known that expanded trinucleotide repeats can interfere with DNA replication and repair, the cellular response to these events has not been characterized. Here, we demonstrate that an expanded CAG/CTG repeat elicits a DNA damage checkpoint response in budding yeast. Using microcolony and single cell pedigree analysis, we found that cells carrying an expanded CAG repeat frequently experience protracted cell division cycles, persistent arrests, and morphological abnormalities. These phenotypes were further exacerbated by mutations in DSB repair pathways, including homologous recombination and end joining, implicating a DNA damage response. Cell cycle analysis confirmed repeat-dependent S phase delays and G2/M arrests. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the above phenotypes are due to the activation of the DNA damage checkpoint, since expanded CAG repeats induced the phosphorylation of the Rad53 checkpoint kinase in a rad52Delta recombination deficient mutant. Interestingly, cells mutated for the MRX complex (Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2), a central component of DSB repair which is required to repair breaks at CAG repeats, failed to elicit repeat-specific arrests, morphological defects, or Rad53 phosphorylation. We therefore conclude that damage at expanded CAG/CTG repeats is likely sensed by the MRX complex, leading to a checkpoint response. Finally, we show that repeat expansions preferentially occur in cells experiencing growth delays. Activation of DNA damage checkpoints in repeat-containing cells could contribute to the tissue degeneration observed in trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases.

Reference Type
Journal Article
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Sundararajan R, Freudenreich CH
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