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Genetics. 2014 Feb;196(2):403-12. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.159806. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

Genome destabilizing mutator alleles drive specific mutational trajectories in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.


In addition to environmental factors and intrinsic variations in base substitution rates, specific genome-destabilizing mutations can shape the mutational trajectory of genomes. How specific alleles influence the nature and position of accumulated mutations in a genomic context is largely unknown. Understanding the impact of genome-destabilizing alleles is particularly relevant to cancer genomes where biased mutational signatures are identifiable. We first created a more complete picture of cellular pathways that impact mutation rate using a primary screen to identify essential Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene mutations that cause mutator phenotypes. Drawing primarily on new alleles identified in this resource, we measure the impact of diverse mutator alleles on mutation patterns directly by whole-genome sequencing of 68 mutation-accumulation strains derived from wild-type and 11 parental mutator genotypes. The accumulated mutations differ across mutator strains, displaying base-substitution biases, allele-specific mutation hotspots, and break-associated mutation clustering. For example, in mutants of POLα and the Cdc13-Stn1-Ten1 complex, we find a distinct subtelomeric bias for mutations that we show is independent of the target sequence. Together our data suggest that specific genome-instability mutations are sufficient to drive discrete mutational signatures, some of which share properties with mutation patterns seen in tumors. Thus, in a population of cells, genome-instability mutations could influence clonal evolution by establishing discrete mutational trajectories for genomes.


genome instability; high-throughput sequencing; mutation signature; mutator; yeast genome

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