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Genetics. 1994 May;137(1):19-39.

Interaction between mismatch repair and genetic recombination in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae encodes a set of genes that show strong amino acid sequence similarity to MutS and MutL, proteins required for mismatch repair in Escherichia coli. We examined the role of MSH2 and PMS1, yeast homologs of mutS and mutL, respectively, in the repair of base pair mismatches formed during meiotic recombination. By using specifically marked HIS4 and ARG4 alleles, we showed that msh2 mutants displayed a severe defect in the repair of all base pair mismatches as well as 1-, 2- and 4-bp insertion/deletion mispairs. The msh2 and pms1 phenotypes were indistinguishable, suggesting that the wild-type gene products act in the same repair pathway. A comparison of gene conversion events in wild-type and msh2 mutants indicated that mismatch repair plays an important role in genetic recombination. (1) Tetrad analysis at five different loci revealed that, in msh2 mutants, the majority of aberrant segregants displayed a sectored phenotype, consistent with a failure to repair mismatches created during heteroduplex formation. In wild type, base pair mismatches were almost exclusively repaired toward conversion rather than restoration. (2) In msh2 strains 10-19% of the aberrant tetrads were Ab4:4. (3) Polarity gradients at HIS4 and ARG4 were nearly abolished in msh2 mutants. The frequency of gene conversion at the 3' end of these genes was increased and was nearly the frequency observed at the 5' end. (4) Co-conversion studies were consistent with mismatch repair acting to regulate heteroduplex DNA tract length. We favor a model proposing that recombination events occur through the formation and resolution of heteroduplex intermediates and that mismatch repair proteins specifically interact with recombination enzymes to regulate the length of symmetric heteroduplex DNA.

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