Evidence that base stacking potential in annealed 3' overhangs determines polymerase utilization in yeast nonhomologous end joining

DNA Repair (Amst). 2008 Jan 1;7(1):67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2007.07.018. Epub 2007 Sep 18.


Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) directly rejoins DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) when recombination is not possible. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the DNA polymerase Pol4 is required for gap filling when a short 3' overhang must prime DNA synthesis. Here, we examined further end variations to test specific hypotheses regarding Pol4 usage in NHEJ in vivo. Surprisingly, Pol4 dependence at 3' overhangs was reduced when a nonhomologous 5' flap nucleotide was present across from the gap, even though the mismatched nucleotide was corrected, not incorporated. In contrast, a gap with a 5' deoxyribosephosphate (dRP) was as Pol4-dependent as a gap with a 5' phosphate, demonstrating the importance of the downstream base in relaxing the Pol4 requirement. Combined with prior observations of Pol4-independent NHEJ of nicks with 5' hydroxyls, we suggest that base stacking interactions across the broken strands can stabilize a joint, allowing another polymerase to substitute for Pol4. This model predicts that a unique function of Pol4 is to actively stabilize template strands that lack stacking continuity. We also explored whether NHEJ end processing can occur via short- and long-patch pathways analogous to base excision repair. Results demonstrated that 5' dRPs could be removed in the absence of Pol4 lyase activity. The 5' flap endonuclease Rad27 was not required for repair in this or any situation tested, indicating that still other NHEJ 5' nucleases must exist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Polymerase beta
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Flap Endonucleases / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • DNA Polymerase beta
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • POL4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Flap Endonucleases
  • RAD27 protein, S cerevisiae