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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A multistep genomic screen identifies new genes required for repair of DNA double-strand breaks in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Jennifer Summers McKinney1, Sunaina Sethi1, Jennifer DeMars Tripp1, Thuy N Nguyen1, Brian A Sanderson1, James W Westmoreland2, Michael A Resnick2 and L Kevin Lewis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA

2 Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:251  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-251

Published: 15 April 2013



Efficient mechanisms for rejoining of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are vital because misrepair of such lesions leads to mutation, aneuploidy and loss of cell viability. DSB repair is mediated by proteins acting in two major pathways, called homologous recombination and nonhomologous end-joining. Repair efficiency is also modulated by other processes such as sister chromatid cohesion, nucleosome remodeling and DNA damage checkpoints. The total number of genes influencing DSB repair efficiency is unknown.


To identify new yeast genes affecting DSB repair, genes linked to gamma radiation resistance in previous genome-wide surveys were tested for their impact on repair of site-specific DSBs generated by in vivo expression of EcoRI endonuclease. Eight members of the RAD52 group of DNA repair genes (RAD50, RAD51, RAD52, RAD54, RAD55, RAD57, MRE11 and XRS2) and 73 additional genes were found to be required for efficient repair of EcoRI-induced DSBs in screens utilizing both MATa and MATĪ± deletion strain libraries. Most mutants were also sensitive to the clastogenic chemicals MMS and bleomycin. Several of the non-RAD52 group genes have previously been linked to DNA repair and over half of the genes affect nuclear processes. Many proteins encoded by the protective genes have previously been shown to associate physically with each other and with known DNA repair proteins in high-throughput proteomics studies. A majority of the proteins (64%) share sequence similarity with human proteins, suggesting that they serve similar functions.


We have used a genetic screening approach to detect new genes required for efficient repair of DSBs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The findings have spotlighted new genes that are critical for maintenance of genome integrity and are therefore of greatest concern for their potential impact when the corresponding gene orthologs and homologs are inactivated or polymorphic in human cells.

EcoRI; Homologous recombination; End-joining; Double-strand break; Bleomycin; MMS; Radiation; RAD52; Gene ontology (GO); Overlapping genes