Mismatch Repair Balances Leading and Lagging Strand DNA Replication Fidelity
The two DNA strands of the nuclear genome are replicated asymmetrically using three DNA polymerases, α, δ, and ε. Current evidence suggests that DNA polymerase ε (Pol ε) is the primary leading strand replicase, whereas Pols α and δ primarily perform lagging strand replication. The fact that these polymerases differ in fidelity and error specificity is interesting in light of the fact that the stability of the nuclear genome depends in part on the ability of mismatch repair (MMR) to correct different mismatches generated in different contexts during replication. Here we provide the first comparison, to our knowledge, of the efficiency of MMR of leading and lagging strand replication errors. We first use the strand-biased ribonucleotide incorporation propensity of a Pol ε mutator variant to confirm that Pol ε is the primary leading strand replicase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We then use polymerase-specific error signatures to show that MMR efficiency in vivo strongly depends on the polymerase, the mismatch composition, and the location of the mismatch. An extreme case of variation by location is a T-T mismatch that is refractory to MMR. This mismatch is flanked by an AT-rich triplet repeat sequence that, when interrupted, restores MMR to >95% efficiency. Thus this natural DNA sequence suppresses MMR, placing a nearby base pair at high risk of mutation due to leading strand replication infidelity. We find that, overall, MMR most efficiently corrects the most potentially deleterious errors (indels) and then the most common substitution mismatches. In combination with earlier studies, the results suggest that significant differences exist in the generation and repair of Pol α, δ, and ε replication errors, but in a generally complementary manner that results in high-fidelity replication of both DNA strands of the yeast nuclear genome. The stability of complex and highly organized nuclear genomes partly depends on the ability of mismatch repair (MMR) to correct a variety of different mismatches generated as the leading and lagging strand templates are copied by three polymerases, each with different fidelity. Here we provide the first comparison, to our knowledge, of the efficiency of MMR of leading and lagging strand replication errors. We first confirm that Pol ε is the primary leading strand replicase, complementing earlier assignment of Pols α and δ as the primary lagging strand replicases. We then show that MMR efficiency in vivo strongly depends on the polymerase that generates the mismatch and on the composition and location of mismatches. In one extreme case, a flanking triplet repeat sequence eliminates MMR altogether. Overall, MMR is most efficient for mismatches generated at the highest rates and having the most deleterious potential, thereby ultimately achieving high-fidelity replication of both DNA strands.