Protection of the C. elegans germ cell genome depends on diverse DNA repair pathways during normal proliferation

Bettina Meier (Lead / Corresponding author), Nadezda V. Volkova (Lead / Corresponding author), Ye Hong, Simone Bertolini, Víctor González-Huici, Tsvetana Petrova, Simon Boulton, Peter J. Campbell, Moritz Gerstung, Anton Gartner

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Maintaining genome integrity is particularly important in germ cells to ensure faithful transmission of genetic information across generations. Here we systematically describe germ cell mutagenesis in wild-type and 61 DNA repair mutants cultivated over multiple generations. ~44% of the DNA repair mutants analysed showed a >2-fold increased mutagenesis with a broad spectrum of mutational outcomes. Nucleotide excision repair deficiency led to higher base substitution rates, whereas polh-1(Polη) and rev-3(Polζ) translesion synthesis polymerase mutants resulted in 50-400 bp deletions. Signatures associated with defective homologous recombination fall into two classes: 1) brc-1/BRCA1 and rad-51/RAD51 paralog mutants showed increased mutations across all mutation classes, 2) mus-81/MUS81 and slx-1/SLX1 nuclease, and him-6/BLM, helq-1/HELQ or rtel-1/RTEL1 helicase mutants primarily accumulated structural variants. Repetitive and G-quadruplex sequence-containing loci were more frequently mutated in specific DNA repair backgrounds. Tandem duplications embedded in inverted repeats were observed in helq-1 helicase mutants, and a unique pattern of 'translocations' involving homeologous sequences occurred in rip-1 recombination mutants. atm-1/ATM checkpoint mutants harboured structural variants specifically enriched in subtelomeric regions. Interestingly, locally clustered mutagenesis was only observed for combined brc-1 and cep-1/p53 deficiency. Our study provides a global view of how different DNA repair pathways contribute to prevent germ cell mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0250291
Number of pages30
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2021

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