Fission yeast Rad8/HLTF facilitates Rad52-dependent chromosomal rearrangements through PCNA lysine 107 ubiquitination

PLoS Genet. 2021 Jul 22;17(7):e1009671. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009671. eCollection 2021 Jul.


Gross chromosomal rearrangements (GCRs), including translocation, deletion, and inversion, can cause cell death and genetic diseases such as cancer in multicellular organisms. Rad51, a DNA strand exchange protein, suppresses GCRs by repairing spontaneous DNA damage through a conservative way of homologous recombination, gene conversion. On the other hand, Rad52 that catalyzes single-strand annealing (SSA) causes GCRs using homologous sequences. However, the detailed mechanism of Rad52-dependent GCRs remains unclear. Here, we provide genetic evidence that fission yeast Rad8/HLTF facilitates Rad52-dependent GCRs through the ubiquitination of lysine 107 (K107) of PCNA, a DNA sliding clamp. In rad51Δ cells, loss of Rad8 eliminated 75% of the isochromosomes resulting from centromere inverted repeat recombination, showing that Rad8 is essential for the formation of the majority of isochromosomes in rad51Δ cells. Rad8 HIRAN and RING finger mutations reduced GCRs, suggesting that Rad8 facilitates GCRs through 3' DNA-end binding and ubiquitin ligase activity. Mms2 and Ubc4 but not Ubc13 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes were required for GCRs. Consistent with this, mutating PCNA K107 rather than the well-studied PCNA K164 reduced GCRs. Rad8-dependent PCNA K107 ubiquitination facilitates Rad52-dependent GCRs, as PCNA K107R, rad8, and rad52 mutations epistatically reduced GCRs. In contrast to GCRs, PCNA K107R did not significantly change gene conversion rates, suggesting a specific role of PCNA K107 ubiquitination in GCRs. PCNA K107R enhanced temperature-sensitive growth defects of DNA ligase I cdc17-K42 mutant, implying that PCNA K107 ubiquitination occurs when Okazaki fragment maturation fails. Remarkably, K107 is located at the interface between PCNA subunits, and an interface mutation D150E bypassed the requirement of PCNA K107 and Rad8 ubiquitin ligase for GCRs. These data suggest that Rad8-dependent PCNA K107 ubiquitination facilitates Rad52-dependent GCRs by changing the PCNA clamp structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Centromere / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Ligase ATP / genetics
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Mutation
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • rad52 protein, S pombe
  • DNA
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • DNA Ligase ATP

Grants and funding

This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research KAKENHI grand numbers JP23570212, JP26114711, 18K06060, and 21H02402 to TN. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.