DNA double-strand breaks can result from closely opposed breaks induced directly in complementary strands. Alternatively, double-strand breaks could be generated during repair of clustered damage, where the repair of closely opposed lesions has to be well coordinated. Using single and multiple mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast) that impede the interaction of DNA polymerase delta and the 5'-flap endonuclease Rad27/Fen1 with the PCNA sliding clamp, we show that the lack of coordination between these components during long-patch base excision repair of alkylation damage can result in many double-strand breaks within the chromosomes of nondividing haploid cells. This contrasts with the efficient repair of nonclustered methyl methanesulfonate-induced lesions, as measured by quantitative PCR and S1 nuclease cleavage of single-strand break sites. We conclude that closely opposed single-strand lesions are a unique threat to the genome and that repair of closely opposed strand damage requires greater spatial and temporal coordination between the participating proteins than does widely spaced damage in order to prevent the development of double-strand breaks.
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