In the early steps of homologous recombination, single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) from a broken chromosome invades homologous sequence located in a sister or homolog donor. In genomes that contain numerous repetitive DNA elements or gene paralogs, recombination can potentially occur between non-allelic/divergent (homeologous) sequences that share sequence identity. Such recombination events can lead to lethal chromosomal deletions or rearrangements. However, homeologous recombination events can be suppressed through rejection mechanisms that involve recognition of DNA mismatches in heteroduplex DNA by mismatch repair factors, followed by active unwinding of the heteroduplex DNA by helicases. Because factors required for heteroduplex rejection are hypothesized to be targets and/or effectors of the DNA damage response (DDR), a cell cycle control mechanism that ensures timely and efficient repair, we tested whether the DDR, and more specifically, the RAD9 gene, had a role in regulating rejection. We performed these studies using a DNA repair assay that measures repair by single-strand annealing (SSA) of a double-strand break (DSB) using homeologous DNA templates. We found that repair of homeologous DNA sequences, but not identical sequences, induced a RAD9-dependent cell cycle delay in the G2 stage of the cell cycle. Repair through a divergent DNA template occurred more frequently in RAD9 compared to rad9Δ strains. However, repair in rad9Δ mutants could be restored to wild-type levels if a G2 delay was induced by nocodazole. These results suggest that cell cycle arrest induced by the Rad9-dependent DDR allows repair between divergent DNA sequences despite the potential for creating deleterious genome rearrangements, and illustrates the importance of additional cellular mechanisms that act to suppress recombination between divergent DNA sequences.
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