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Keywords:

  • Non-homologous end-joining;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • Yku70/80;
  • Mre11/Rad50/Xrs2;
  • Lig4/Lif1;
  • Nej1

Abstract

DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) are considered to be a severe form of DNA damage, because if left unrepaired, they can cause a cell death and, if misrepaired, they can lead to genomic instability and, ultimately, the development of cancer in multicellular organisms. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae repairs DSB primarily by homologous recombination (HR), despite the presence of the KU70, KU80, DNA ligase IV and XRCC4 homologues, essential factors of the mammalian non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) machinery. S. cerevisiae, however, lacks clear DNA-PKcs and ARTEMIS homologues, two important additional components of mammalian NHEJ. On the other hand, S. cerevisiae is endowed with a regulatory NHEJ component, Nej1, which has not yet been found in other organisms. Furthermore, there is evidence in budding yeast for a requirement for the Mre11/Rad50/Xrs2 complex for NHEJ, which does not appear to be the case either in Schizosaccharomyces pombe or in mammals. Here, we comprehensively describe the functions of all the S. cerevisiae NHEJ components identified so far and present current knowledge about the NHEJ process in this organism. In addition, this review depicts S. cerevisiae as a powerful model system for investigating the utilization of either NHEJ or HR in DSB repair.