Cancer cells show increased genome rearrangements, although it is unclear what defects cause these rearrangements. Previous studies have implicated the Saccharomyces cerevisiae replication checkpoint in the suppression of spontaneous genome rearrangements. In the present study, low doses of methyl methane sulfonate that activate the intra-S checkpoint but not the G1 or G2 DNA damage checkpoints were found to cause increased accumulation of genome rearrangements in both wild-type strains and to an even greater extent in strains containing mutations causing defects in the intra-S checkpoint. The rearrangements were primarily translocations or events resulting in deletion of a portion of a chromosome arm along with the addition of a new telomere. Combinations of mutations causing individual defects in the RAD24 or SGS1 branches of the intra-S checkpoint or the replication checkpoint showed synergistic interactions with regard to the spontaneous genome instability rate. PDS1 and the RAD50-MRE11-XRS2 complex were found to be important members of all the S-phase checkpoints in suppressing genome instability, whereas RAD53 only seemed to play a role in the intra-S checkpoints. Combinations of mutations that seem to result in inactivation of the S-phase checkpoints and critical effectors resulted in as much as 12,000-14,000-fold increases in the genome instability rate. These data support the view that spontaneous genome rearrangements result from DNA replication errors and indicate that there is a high degree of redundancy among the checkpoints that act in S phase to suppress such genome instability.
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