Project abstract for group bielina


PCNA Ubiquitination is an Integral Part of a Novel Nick-Sensory Mechansim

Deficiency in DNA ligase I, encoded by CDC9 in budding yeast, leads to the accumulation of unligated Okazaki fragments and triggers PCNA ubiquitination at a non-canonical lysine residue. Importantly, this signal is crucial to activate the S phase checkpoint, which promotes cell cycle arrest. These researchers have determined that a pol30K107 mutation alleviated cell cycle arrest in cdc9 mutants, consistent with the idea that the modification of PCNA at K107 affects the rate of DNA synthesis at replication forks. To determine whether PCNA ubiquitination occurred in response to nicks or was triggered by the lack of PCNA-DNA ligase interaction, they complemented cdc9 cells with either wild-type DNA ligase I or Chlorella virus ligase, the latter of which fails to interact with PCNA. Both enzymes reversed PCNA ubiquitination, arguing that the modification is likely an integral part of a novel nick-sensory mechanism and not due to non-specific secondary mutations that could have occurred spontaneously in cdc9 mutants. 


To further understand how cells cope with the accumulation of nicks during DNA replication, the researchers utilized cdc9-1 in a genome-wide synthetic lethality screen, which identified RAD59 as a strong negative interactor. In comparison to cdc9 single mutants, cdc9 rad59Δ double mutants did not alter PCNA ubiquitination but enhanced phosphorylation of the mediator of the replication checkpoint, Mrc1. Since Mrc1 resides at the replication fork and is phosphorylated in response to fork stalling, these results indicate that Rad59 alleviates nick-induced replication fork slowdown. Thus, Rad59 promotes fork progression when Okazaki fragment processing is compromised and counteracts PCNA-K107 mediated cell cycle arrest.