Involvement of double-strand chromosomal breaks for mating-type switching in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 1984; 49:77-88.CS
The yeast S. cerevisiae switches a and alpha cell types by a transposition mechanism that replaces genetic information residing at the mating-type locus (MAT) with information copied from either of the two donor loci, HML and HMR. The donor HML and HMR loci contain the same genetic information as the MATa and MAT alpha alleles, yet they do not switch. Additionally, Strathern et al. (1982) have described an in vivo double-strand DNA break found at subgenomic levels (approximately 2% of MAT DNA) within the MAT locus but not within HML and HMR. We have examined the role of this double-strand DNA break in the switching process. Cell lineage studies show that strains containing deletions of the donor HML and HMR loci produce lethal progeny in the exact pattern described for MAT switching in standard strains. Our interpretation is that the double-strand MAT break in the deletion strains cannot be repaired because of the lack of the donor loci, resulting in cell death. We suggest that the double-strand DNA break is an initiating event for switching and that this event is lethal in the absence of the donor loci. MAT mutants isolated as survivors from this "pedigree of death" define a site required for switching where the double-strand break occurs. We have also examined marl mutant strains in which the donor loci are expressed and observed to switch (Klar et al. 1981a). The double-strand DNA cut appears at the HM loci in these strains. Thus, there is a strong correlation between the presence or absence of the double-strand break at each cassette and its ability or inability to switch as observed at the single cell level.