The eukaryotic cell cycle comprises a series of events, whose ordering and correct progression depends on the oscillating activity of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks), which safeguard timely duplication and segregation of the genome. Cell division is intimately connected to an evolutionarily conserved DNA damage response (DDR), which involves DNA repair pathways that reverse DNA lesions, as well as checkpoint pathways that inhibit cell cycle progression while repair occurs. There is increasing evidence that Cdks are involved in the DDR, in particular in DNA repair by homologous recombination and in activation of the checkpoint response. However, Cdks have to be carefully regulated, because even an excess of their activity can affect genome stability. In this review, we consider the physiological role of Cdks in the DDR.
The ends of both double-strand breaks (DSBs) and telomeres undergo tightly regulated 5 to 3 resection. Resection of DNA ends, which is specifically inhibited during the G1 cell cycle phase, requires the MRX complex, Sae2, Sgs1 and Exo1. Moreover, it is negatively regulated by the non-homologous end-joining component Yku and the telomeric protein Rif2. Here, we investigate the nuclease activities that are inhibited at DNA ends by Rif2 and Yku in G1 versus G2 by using an inducible short telomere assay. We show that, in the absence of the protective function of Rif2, resection in G1 depends primarily on MRX nuclease activity and Sae2, whereas Exo1 and Sgs1 bypass the requirement of MRX nuclease activity only if Yku is absent. In contrast, Yku-mediated inhibition is relieved in G2, where resection depends on Mre11 nuclease activity, Exo1 and, to a minor extent, Sgs1. Furthermore, Exo1 compensates for a defective MRX nuclease activity more efficiently in the absence than in the presence of Rif2, suggesting that Rif2 inhibits not only MRX but also Exo1. Notably, the presence of MRX, but not its nuclease activity, is required and sufficient to override Yku-mediated inhibition of Exo1 in G2, whereas it is required but not sufficient in G1. Finally, the integrity of MRX is also necessary to promote Exo1- and Sgs1-dependent resection, possibly by facilitating Exo1 and Sgs1 recruitment to DNA ends. Thus, resection of DNA ends that are protected by Yku and Rif2 involves multiple functions of the MRX complex that do not necessarily require its nuclease activity.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly hazardous for genome integrity, because failure to repair these lesions can lead to genomic instability. DSBs can arise accidentally at unpredictable locations into the genome, but they are also normal intermediates in meiotic recombination. Moreover, the natural ends of linear chromosomes resemble DSBs. Although intrachromosomal DNA breaks are potent stimulators of the DNA damage response, the natural ends of linear chromosomes are packaged into protective structures called telomeres that suppress DNA repair/recombination activities. Although DSBs and telomeres are functionally different, they both undergo 5-3 nucleolytic degradation of DNA ends, a process known as resection. The resulting 3-single-stranded DNA overhangs enable repair of DSBs by homologous recombination (HR), whereas they allow the action of telomerase at telomeres. The molecular activities required for DSB and telomere end resection are similar, indicating that the initial steps of HR and telomerase-mediated elongation are related. Resection of both DSBs and telomeres must be tightly regulated in time and space to ensure genome stability and cell survival.
Meiotic recombination requires the formation of programmed Spo11-dependent DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Sae2 protein and the Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 complex are necessary to remove the covalently attached Spo11 protein from the DNA ends, which are then resected by so far unknown nucleases. Here, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of Sae2 Ser-267 by cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) is required to initiate meiotic DSB resection by allowing Spo11 removal from DSB ends. This finding suggests that Cdk1 activity is required for the processing of Spo11-induced DSBs, thus providing a mechanism for coordinating DSB resection with progression through meiotic prophase. Furthermore, the helicase Sgs1 and the nucleases Exo1 and Dna2 participate in lengthening the 5-3 resection tracts during meiosis by controlling a step subsequent to Spo11 removal.
DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly hazardous for genome integrity, but meiotic cells deliberately introduce them into their genome in order to initiate homologous recombination, which ensures proper homologous chromosome segregation. To minimize the risk of deleterious effects, meiotic DSB formation, processing and repair are tightly regulated in order to occur only at the right time and place. Furthermore, a highly conserved signal-transduction pathway, called meiotic recombination checkpoint, coordinates DSB repair with meiotic progression and promotes meiotic recombination.
The Mec1 and Rad53 protein kinases are essential for budding yeast cell viability and are also required to activate the S-phase checkpoint, which supports DNA replication under stress conditions. Whether these two functions are related to each other remains to be determined, and the nature of the replication stress-dependent lethality of mec1 and rad53 mutants is still unclear. We show here that a decrease in cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1) activity alleviates the lethal effects of mec1 and rad53 mutations both in the absence and in the presence of replication stress, indicating that the execution of a certain Cdk1-mediated event(s) is detrimental in the absence of Mec1 and Rad53. This lethality involves Cdk1 functions in both G(1) and mitosis. In fact, delaying either the G(1)/S transition or spindle elongation in mec1 and rad53 mutants allows their survival both after exposure to hydroxyurea and under unperturbed conditions. Altogether, our studies indicate that inappropriate entry into S phase and segregation of incompletely replicated chromosomes contribute to cell death when the S-phase checkpoint is not functional. Moreover, these findings suggest that the essential function of Mec1 and Rad53 is not necessarily separated from the function of these kinases in supporting DNA synthesis under stress conditions.
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