Theses Doctoral

The Homologous Recombination Machinery Regulates Increased Chromosomal Mobility After DNA Damage in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Smith, Michael Joseph

It is incumbent upon cellular life to ensure the faithful transmission of genetic material from mother cell to daughter cell and from parent to progeny. However, cells are under constant threat of DNA damage from sources both endogenous and exogenous, such as the products of metabolism and genotoxic chemicals. Thus, cells have evolved multiple systems of repair to ensure genome integrity. The DNA double-strand break (DSB) is among the most lethal forms of DNA damage, and a critical pathway to resolve these lesions is homologous recombination (HR). During HR, information lost at the cut site of one locus is repaired when the damaged site locates a homologous sequence in the nucleus to use as template for repair. The process by which a cut chromosome finds its homolog is known as homology search, and, while the enzymatic steps of HR have been well studied in recent years, the coordination of cell biological events like HS in the context of the crowded nucleus has remained poorly understood. Recently, our laboratory and others have studied a phenomenon known as DNA damage-induced increased chromosomal mobility, in which chromosomal loci, both damaged and undamaged, explore larger areas of the nucleus after the formation of DSBs. The increase in the mobility of cut loci is known as local mobility, and the increase in mobility of undamaged loci in response to a break elsewhere in the nucleus is known as global mobility. Here, I report that the recombination machinery and the DNA damage checkpoint cooperate in order to regulate global mobility of chromosomes following DSB formation. The RecA-like recombinase Rad51 is required for global mobility, and exerts its effect at single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), but its canonical homology search and strand exchange functions are not required. I find that Rad51 is ultimately required to displace Rad52, which is revealed to be an inhibitor of mobility when bound to ssDNA in the absence of Rad51. Thus, recombination factors can serve as DNA damage sensors, and relay information to the checkpoint apparatus in order to govern the initiation of increased mobility after DSB formation. I have also studied how the baseline confinement of loci is established, and assessed the contributions of several genes involved in repair to increased mobility. These observations offer novel insight into previously unappreciated regulatory functions performed by the recombination machinery, and demonstrate how the progression of DNA repair pathways influences nuclear organization.


  • thumnail for Smith_columbia_0054D_14166.pdf Smith_columbia_0054D_14166.pdf application/pdf 49.3 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Genetics and Development
Thesis Advisors
Rothstein, Rodney Joel
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 14, 2017