Expansions of simple DNA repeats cause numerous hereditary diseases in humans. We analyzed the role of DNA polymerases in the instability of Friedreich's ataxia (GAA)(n) repeats in a yeast experimental system. The elementary step of expansion corresponded to ~160 bp in the wild-type strain, matching the size of Okazaki fragments in yeast. This step increased when DNA polymerase α was mutated, suggesting a link between the scale of expansions and Okazaki fragment size. Expandable repeats strongly elevated the rate of mutations at substantial distances around them, a phenomenon we call repeat-induced mutagenesis (RIM). Notably, defects in the replicative DNA polymerases δ and ε strongly increased rates for both repeat expansions and RIM. The increases in repeat-mediated instability observed in DNA polymerase δ mutants depended on translesion DNA polymerases. We conclude that repeat expansions and RIM are two sides of the same replicative mechanism.
Copyright © 2012 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.