Background: Genome instability is a hallmark of cancer and plays a critical role in generating the myriad of phenotypes selected for during tumor progression. However, the mechanisms that prevent genome rearrangements remain poorly understood.
Results: To elucidate the mechanisms that ensure genome stability, we screened a collection of candidate genes for suppressors of gross chromosomal rearrangements (GCRs) in budding yeast. One potent suppressor gene encodes Elg1, a conserved but uncharacterized homolog of the large RFC subunit Rfc1 and the alternative RFC subunits Ctf18/Chl12 and Rad24. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that Elg1 forms a novel and distinct RFC-like complex in both yeast and human cells. We find that Elg1 is required for efficient S phase progression and telomere homeostasis in yeast. Elg1 interacts physically with the PCNA homolog Pol30 and the FEN-1 homolog Rad27. The physical and genetic interactions suggest a role for Elg1 in Okazaki fragment maturation. Furthermore, Elg1 acts in concert with the alternative Rfc1-like proteins Rad24 and Ctf18 to enable Rad53 checkpoint kinase activation in response to replication stress.
Conclusions: Collectively, these results reveal that Elg1 forms a novel and conserved alternative RFC complex. Furthermore, we propose that genome instability arises at high frequency in elg1 mutants due to a defect in Okazaki fragment maturation.