SUMO conjugation is a key regulator of the cellular response to DNA replication stress, acting in part to control recombination at stalled DNA replication forks. Here we examine recombination-related phenotypes in yeast mutants defective for the SUMO de-conjugating/chain-editing enzyme Ulp2p. We find that spontaneous recombination is elevated in ulp2 strains and that recombination DNA repair is essential for ulp2 survival. In contrast to other SUMO pathway mutants, however, the frequency of spontaneous chromosome rearrangements is markedly reduced in ulp2 strains, and some types of rearrangements arising through recombination can apparently not be tolerated. In investigating the basis for this, we find DNA repair foci do not disassemble in ulp2 cells during recovery from the replication fork-blocking drug methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), corresponding with an accumulation of X-shaped recombination intermediates. ulp2 cells satisfy the DNA damage checkpoint during MMS recovery and commit to chromosome segregation with similar kinetics to wild-type cells. However, sister chromatids fail to disjoin, resulting in abortive chromosome segregation and cell lethality. This chromosome segregation defect can be rescued by overproducing the anti-recombinase Srs2p, indicating that recombination plays an underlying causal role in blocking chromatid separation. Overall, our results are consistent with a role for Ulp2p in preventing the formation of DNA lesions that must be repaired through recombination. At the same time, Ulp2p is also required to either suppress or resolve recombination-induced attachments between sister chromatids. These opposing defects may synergize to greatly increase the toxicity of DNA replication stress.
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