RPA and Rad27 limit templated and inverted insertions at DNA breaks

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Formation of templated insertions at DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is very common in cancer cells. The mechanisms and enzymes regulating these events are largely unknown. Here, we investigated templated insertions in yeast at DSBs using amplicon sequencing across a repaired locus. We document very short (most ∼5-34 bp), templated inverted duplications at DSBs. They are generated through a foldback mechanism that utilizes microhomologies adjacent to the DSB. Enzymatic requirements suggest a hybrid mechanism wherein one end requires Polδ-mediated synthesis while the other end is captured by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). This process is exacerbated in mutants with low levels or mutated RPA ( rtt105 Δ; rfa1 -t33) or extensive resection mutant ( sgs1 Δ exo1 Δ). Templated insertions from various distant genomic locations also increase in these mutants as well as in rad27 Δ and originate from fragile regions of the genome. Among complex insertions, common events are insertions of two sequences, originating from the same locus and with inverted orientation. We propose that these inversions are also formed by microhomology-mediated template switching. Taken together, we propose that a shortage of RPA typical in cancer cells is one possible factor stimulating the formation of templated insertions.

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