Ribonucleotides in yeast genomic DNA are targets of RNase H2 and nucleotide excision repair
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Ribonucleotides can be incorporated into the yeast genome through a variety of mechanisms, including through DNA polymerazation, DNA priming, and oxidative damage. Ribonucleotides contain a reactive 2’ hydroxyl group on the sugar, which can distort the DNA double helix and lead to defective replication and transcription and ultimately mutagenesis. Ribonucleotide excision repair (RER) has been found to remove ribonucleotides through the enzyme RNase H2, though the in vivo substrate specificity is not known. Nucleotide excision repair (NER) removes bulky lesions formed in DNA, however its role in the extraction of ribonucleotides has not yet been determined in eukaryotes. Previously developed oligonucleotide-driven gene correction assays in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker’s yeast, have shown that paired and mispaired rNMPs embedded into genomic DNA, if not removed, serve as templates for DNA synthesis and can result in a genetic alteration. We implemented this assay to examine whether RNase H2 and NER can target specific rNMPs in DNA. Our results deliver new evidence that RNase H2 specifically recognizes isolated paired and mispaired rNMPs embedded in yeast genomic DNA and that the NER mechanism can recognize an isolated paired rNMP as damage during DNA double-strand break repair in yeast.