A prototypical Fanconi anemia pathway in lower eukaryotes?
McHugh PJ., Ward TA., Chovanec M.
DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) present a major challenge to cells, preventing separation of the two strands of duplex DNA and blocking major chromosome transactions, including transcription and replication. Due to the complexity of removing this form of DNA damage, no single DNA repair pathway has been shown to be capable of eradicating ICLs. In eukaryotes, ICL repair is a complex process, principally because several repair pathways compete for ICL repair intermediates in a strictly cell cycle-dependent manner. Yeast cells require a combination of nucleotide excision repair, homologous recombination repair and postreplication repair/translesion DNA synthesis to remove ICLs. There are also a number of additional ICL repair factors originally identified in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, called Pso1 though 10, of which Pso2 has an apparently dedicated role in ICL repair. Mammalian cells respond to ICLs by a complex network guided by factors mutated in the inherited cancer-prone disorder Fanconi anemia (FA). Although enormous progress has been made over recent years in identifying and characterizing FA factors as well as in elucidating certain aspects of the biology of FA, the mechanistic details of the ICL repair defects in FA patients remain unknown. Dissection of the FA DNA damage response pathway has, in part, been limited by the absence of FA-like pathways in highly tractable model organisms, such as yeast. Although S. cerevisiae possesses putative homologs of the FA factors FANCM, FANCJ and FANCP (Mph1, Chl1 and Slx4, respectively) as well as of the FANCM-associated proteins MHF1 and MHF2 (Mhf1 and Mhf2), the corresponding mutants display no significant increase in sensitivity to ICLs. Nevertheless, we and others have recently shown that these FA homologs, along with several other factors, control an ICL repair pathway, which has an overlapping or redundant role with a Pso2-controlled pathway. This pathway acts in S-phase and serves to prevent ICL-stalled replication forks from collapsing into DNA double-strand breaks.