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Curr Biol. 2010 Feb 23;20(4):328-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.12.033. Epub 2010 Jan 21.

Mad2 prolongs DNA damage checkpoint arrest caused by a double-strand break via a centromere-dependent mechanism.

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Department of Biology and Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA.


Eukaryotic cells employ a suite of replication and mitotic checkpoints to ensure the accurate transmission of their DNA. In budding yeast, both the DNA damage checkpoint and the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) block cells prior to anaphase. The presence of a single unrepaired double-strand break (DSB) activates ATR and ATM protein kinase homologs Mec1 and Tel1, which then activate downstream effectors to trigger G2/M arrest and also phosphorylate histone H2A (creating gamma-H2AX) in chromatin surrounding the DSB. The SAC monitors proper attachment of spindle microtubules to the kinetochore formed at each centromere and the biorientation of sister centromeres toward opposite spindle pole bodies. Although these two checkpoints sense quite different perturbations, recent evidence has demonstrated both synergistic interactions and cross-talk between them. Here we report that Mad2 and other SAC proteins play an unexpected role in prolonging G2/M arrest after induction of a single DSB. This function of the SAC depends not only on Mec1 and other components of the DNA damage checkpoint but also on the presence of the centromere located > or = 90 kb from the DNA damage. DNA damage induces epigenetic changes at the centromere, including the gamma-H2AX modification, that appear to alter kinetochore function, thus triggering the canonical SAC. Thus, a single DSB triggers a response by both checkpoints to prevent the segregation of a damaged chromosome.

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