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PLoS Genet. 2011 Feb;7(2):e1002009. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002009. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

AID induces double-strand breaks at immunoglobulin switch regions and c-MYC causing chromosomal translocations in yeast THO mutants.

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  • 1Centro Andaluz de Biología Molecular y Medicina Regenerativa (CABIMER), Universidad de Sevilla-CSIC, Sevilla, Spain.


Transcription of the switch (S) regions of immunoglobulin genes in B cells generates stable R-loops that are targeted by Activation Induced Cytidine Deaminase (AID), triggering class switch recombination (CSR), as well as translocations with c-MYC responsible for Burkitt's lymphomas. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, stable R-loops are formed co-transcriptionally in mutants of THO, a conserved nuclear complex involved in mRNP biogenesis. Such R-loops trigger genome instability and facilitate deamination by human AID. To understand the mechanisms that generate genome instability mediated by mRNP biogenesis impairment and by AID, we devised a yeast chromosomal system based on different segments of mammalian S regions and c-MYC for the analysis of chromosomal rearrangements in both wild-type and THO mutants. We demonstrate that AID acts in yeast at heterologous S and c-MYC transcribed sequences leading to double-strand breaks (DSBs) which in turn cause chromosomal translocations via Non-Homologous End Joining (NHEJ). AID-induced translocations were strongly enhanced in yeast THO null mutants, consistent with the idea that AID-mediated DSBs depend on R-loop formation. Our study not only provides new clues to understand the role of mRNP biogenesis in preventing genome rearrangements and the mechanism of AID-mediated genome instability, but also shows that, once uracil residues are produced by AID-mediated deamination, these are processed into DSBs and chromosomal rearrangements by the general and conserved DNA repair functions present from yeast to human cells.

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