Lopes J, Ribeyre C, Nicolas A

Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Sep;26(17):6675-8

Genomes contain tandem repeat blocks that are at risk of expansion or contraction. The mechanisms of destabilization of the human minisatelliteCEB1 (arrays of 36- to 43-bp repeats) were investigated in a previously developed model system, in which CEB1-0.6 (14 repeats) and CEB1-1.8 (42 repeats) alleles were inserted into the genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As in human cells, CEB1 is stable in mitotically growing yeast cells but is frequently rearranged in the absence of the Rad27/hFEN1 protein involved in Okazaki fragments maturation. To gain insight into this mode of destabilization, the CEB1-1.8 and CEB1-0.6 human alleles and 47 rearrangements derived from a CEB1-1.8 progenitor in rad27Delta cells were sequenced. A high degree of polymorphism of CEB1 internal repeats was observed, attesting to a large variety of homology-driven rearrangements. Simple deletion, double deletion, and highly complex events were observed. Pedigree analysis showed that all rearrangements, even the mostcomplex, occurred in a single generation and were inherited equally by mother and daughter cells. Finally, the rearrangement frequency was found to increase with array size, and partial complementation of the rad27Delta mutation by hFEN1 demonstrated that the production of novel CEB1 alleles is Rad52 and Rad51 dependent. Instability can be explained by an accumulation of unresolved flap structures during replication, leading to the formation of recombinogenic lesions and faulty repair, best understood by homology-dependent synthesis-strand displacement and annealing.