The evolutionarily conserved protein kinases Mec1 and Rad53 are required for checkpoint response and growth. Here we show that their role in growth is to remove the ribonucleotide reductase inhibitor Sml1 to ensure DNA replication. Sml1 protein levels fluctuate during the cell cycle, being lowest during S phase. The disappearance of Sml1 protein in S phase is due to post-transcriptional regulation and is associated with protein phosphorylation. Both phosphorylation and diminution of Sml1 require MEC1 and RAD53. More over, failure to remove Sml1 in mec1 and rad53 mutants results in incomplete DNA replication, defective mitochondrial DNA propagation, decreased dNTP levels and cell death. Interestingly, similar regulation of Sml1 also occurs after DNA damage. In this case, the regulation requires MEC1 and RAD53, as well as other checkpoint genes. Therefore, Sml1 is a new target of the DNA damage checkpoint and its removal is a conserved function of Mec1 and Rad53 during growth and after damage.
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