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J Biosci. 2016 Dec;41(4):615-641.

Genetic and biochemical evidences reveal novel insights into the mechanism underlying Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sae2-mediated abrogation of DNA replication stress.

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Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 (MRX) protein complex plays pivotal roles in double-strand break (DSB) repair, replication stress and telomere length maintenance. Another protein linked to DSB repair is Sae2, which regulates MRX persistence at DSBs. However, very little is known about its role in DNA replication stress and repair. Here, we reveal a crucial role for Sae2 in DNA replication stress. We show that different mutant alleles of SAE2 cause hypersensitivity to genotoxic agents, and when combined with Δmre11 or nuclease-defective mre11 mutant alleles, the double mutants are considerably more sensitive suggesting that the sae2 mutations synergize with mre11 mutations. Biochemical studies demonstrate that Sae2 exists as a dimer in solution, associates preferentially with single-stranded and branched DNA structures, exhibits structure-specific endonuclease activity and cleaves these substrates from the 5' end. Furthermore, we show that the nuclease activity is indeed intrinsic to Sae2. Interestingly, sae2G270D protein possesses DNA-binding activity, but lacks detectable nuclease activity. Altogether, our data suggest a direct role for Sae2 nuclease activity in processing of the DNA structures that arise during replication and DNA damage and provide insights into the mechanism underlying Mre11-Sae2-mediated abrogation of replication stressrelated defects in S. cerevisiae.

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