Localized hyper-mutability (LHM) can be important in evolution, immunity, and genetic diseases. We previously reported that single-strand DNA (ssDNA) can be an important source of damage-induced LHM in yeast. Here, we establish that the generation of LHM by methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) during repair of a chromosomal double-strand break (DSB) can result in over 0.2 mutations/kb, which is approximately 20,000-fold higher than the MMS-induced mutation density without a DSB. The MMS-induced mutations associated with DSB repair were primarily due to substitutions via translesion DNA synthesis at damaged cytosines, even though there are nearly 10 times more MMS-induced lesions at other bases. Based on this mutation bias, the promutagenic lesion dominating LHM is likely 3-methylcytosine, which is single-strand specific. Thus, the dramatic increase in mutagenesis at a DSB is concluded to result primarily from the generation of non-repairable lesions in ssDNA associated with DSB repair along with efficient induction of highly mutagenic ssDNA-specific lesions. These findings with MMS-induced LHM have broad biological implications for unrepaired damage generated in ssDNA and possibly ssRNA.
Published by Elsevier B.V.