Different pri1 and pri2 conditional mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae altered, respectively, in the small (p48) and large (p58) subunits of DNA primase, show an enhanced rate of both mitotic intrachromosomal recombination and spontaneous mutation, to an extent which is correlated with the severity of their defects in cell growth and DNA synthesis. These effects might be attributable to the formation of nicked and gapped DNA molecules that are substrates for recombination and error-prone repair, due to defective DNA replication in the primase mutants. Furthermore, pri1 and pri2 mutations inhibit sporulation and affect spore viability, with the unsporulated mutant cells arresting with a single nucleus, suggesting that DNA primase plays a critical role during meiosis. The observation that all possible pairwise combinations of two pri1 and two pri2 alleles are lethal provides further evidence for direct interaction of the primase subunits in vivo. Immunopurification and immunoprecipitation studies on wild-type and mutant strains suggest that the small subunit has a major role in determining primase activity, whereas the large subunit directly interacts with DNA polymerase alpha, and either mediates or stabilizes association of the p48 polypeptide in the DNA polymerase alpha-primase complex.
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