Control of genome stability by Slx protein complexes

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    The six Saccharomyces cerevisiae SLX genes were identified in a screen for factors required for the viability of cells lacking Sgs1, a member of the Reil helicase family involved in processing stalled replisomes and in the maintenance of genome stability. The six SLX gene products form three distinct heterodimeric complexes, and all three have catalytic activity. Slx3-Slx2 (also known as Mus81-Mms4) and Slx1-Slx4 are both heterodimeric endonucleases with a marked specificity for branched replication fork-like DNA species, whereas Slx5-Slx8 is a SUMO (small ubiquitin-related modifier)-targeted E3 ubiquitin ligase. All three complexes play important, but distinct, roles in different aspects of the cellular response to DNA damage and perturbed DNA replication. Slx4 interacts physically not only with Slx1, but also with Rad1-Rad10 [XPF (xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group F)-ERCC1 (excision repair cross-complementing 1) in humans], another structure-specific endonuclease that participates in the repair of UV-induced DNA damage and in a subpathway of recombinational DNA DSB (double-strand break) repair. Curiously, Slx4 is essential for repair of DSBs by Rad1-Rad10, but is not required for repair of UV damage. Slx4 also promotes cellular resistance to DNA-alkylating agents that block the progression of replisomes during DNA replication, by facilitating the error-free mode of lesion bypass. This does not require Slx1 or Rad1-Rad10, and so Slx4 has several distinct roles in protecting genome stability. In the present article, I provide an overview of our current understanding of the cellular roles of the Slx proteins, paying particular attention to the advances that have been made in understanding the cellular roles of Slx4. in particular, protein-protein interactions and underlying molecular mechanisms are discussed and I draw attention to the many questions that have yet to be answered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)495-510
    Number of pages16
    JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


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