Damaged DNA templates provide an obstacle to the replication fork and can cause genome instability. In eukaryotes, tolerance to damaged DNA is mediated largely by the RAD6 pathway involving ubiquitylation of the DNA polymerase processivity factor PCNA. Whereas monoubiquitylation of PCNA mediates error-prone translesion synthesis (TLS), polyubiquitylation triggers an error-free pathway. Both branches of this pathway are believed to occur in S phase in order to ensure replication completion. However, we found that limiting TLS or the error-free pathway to the G2/M phase of the cell-cycle efficiently promote lesion tolerance. Thus, our findings indicate that both branches of the DNA damage tolerance pathway operate effectively after chromosomal replication, outside S phase. We therefore propose that the RAD6 pathway acts on single-stranded gaps left behind newly restarted replication forks.
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