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Genetics. 2012 Feb;190(2):501-10. doi: 10.1534/genetics.111.134890. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

Frameshift mutagenesis: the roles of primer-template misalignment and the nonhomologous end-joining pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

Abstract

Small insertions or deletions that alter the reading frame of a gene typically occur in simple repeats such as mononucleotide runs and are thought to reflect spontaneous primer-template misalignment during DNA replication. The resulting extrahelical repeat is efficiently recognized by the mismatch repair machinery, which specifically replaces the newly replicated strand to restore the original sequence. Frameshift mutagenesis is most easily studied using reversion assays, and previous studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae suggested that the length threshold for polymerase slippage in mononucleotide runs is 4N. Because the probability of slippage is strongly correlated with run length, however, it was not clear whether shorter runs were unable to support slippage or whether the resulting frameshifts were obscured by the presence of longer runs. To address this issue, we removed all mononucleotide runs >3N from the yeast lys2ΔBgl and lys2ΔA746 frameshift reversion assays, which detect net 1-bp deletions and insertions, respectively. Analyses demonstrate that 2N and 3N runs can support primer-template misalignment, but there is striking run-specific variation in the frequency of slippage, in the accumulation of +1 vs. -1 frameshifts and in the apparent efficiency of mismatch repair. We suggest that some of this variation reflects the role of flanking sequence in initiating primer-template misalignment and that some reflects replication-independent frameshifts generated by the nonhomologous end-joining pathway. Finally, we demonstrate that nonhomologous end joining is uniquely required for the de novo creation of tandem duplications from noniterated sequence.

PMID:
22095081
PMCID:
PMC3276632
DOI:
10.1534/genetics.111.134890
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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