Schizosaccharomyces pombe cells deficient in nucleotide excision repair (NER) are still able to remove photoproducts from cellular DNA, showing that there is a second pathway for repair of UV damage in this organism. We have characterized this repair pathway by cloning and disruption of the genomic gene encoding UV damage endonuclease (UVDE). Although uvde gene disruptant cells are only mildly UV sensitive, a double disruptant of uvde and rad13 (a S. pombe mutant defective in NER) was synergistically more sensitive than either single disruptant and was unable to remove any photoproducts from cellular DNA. Analysis of the kinetics of photoproduct removal in different mutants showed that the UVDE-mediated pathway operates much more rapidly than NER. In contrast to a previous report, our genetic analysis showed that rad12 and uvde are not the same gene. Disruption of the rad2 gene encoding a structure-specific flap endonuclease makes cells UV sensitive, but much of this sensitivity is not observed if the uvde gene is also disrupted. Further genetic and immunochemical analyses suggest that DNA incised by UVDE is processed by two separate mechanisms, one dependent and one independent of flap endonuclease.
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