Function and regulation of yeast ribonucleotide reductase: cell cycle, genotoxic stress, and iron bioavailability

Biomed J. 2013 Mar-Apr;36(2):51-8. doi: 10.4103/2319-4170.110398.


Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are essential enzymes that catalyze the reduction of ribonucleotides to desoxyribonucleotides, thereby providing the building blocks required for de novo DNA biosynthesis. The RNR function is tightly regulated because an unbalanced or excessive supply of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) dramatically increases the mutation rates during DNA replication and repair that can lead to cell death or genetic anomalies. In this review, we focus on Saccharomyces cerevisiae class Ia RNR as a model to understand the different mechanisms controlling RNR function and regulation in eukaryotes. Many studies have contributed to our current understanding of RNR allosteric regulation and, more recently, to its link to RNR oligomerization. Cells have developed additional mechanisms that restrict RNR activity to particular periods when dNTPs are necessary, such as the S phase or upon genotoxic stress. These regulatory strategies include the transcriptional control of the RNR gene expression, inhibition of RNR catalytic activity, and the subcellular redistribution of RNR subunits. Despite class Ia RNRs requiring iron as an essential cofactor for catalysis, little is known about RNR function regulation depending on iron bioavailability. Recent studies into yeast have deciphered novel strategies for the delivery of iron to RNR and for its regulation in response to iron deficiency. Taken together, these studies open up new possibilities to explore in order to limit uncontrolled tumor cell proliferation via RNR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • DNA Damage / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / genetics
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*


  • Iron
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases