DNA Damage Response in Yeast Cells

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Submitted by Aprotim Mazumder, Mark Bathe, and Leona D. Samson

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Cancer starts as a cellular process gone awry in a very small subset of cells, finally manifesting as uncontrolled proliferation. Hence it is essential to develop tools to monitor the expression of key genes, not just in bulk cell populations, but at the level of the single cell. These are yeast cells in which single transcripts of a gene called RNR4 can be seen in red.

Due to its association with DNA repair and synthesis, uncontrolled cell proliferation and cancer, the RNR enzyme is a key target for chemotherapeutic drugs like Gemcitabine. The yeast RNR enzyme is well-studied and tractable for investigating correlations with cell-cycle associated checkpoints. Single molecule mRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) images as above led us to reveal a cell-cycle dependent DNA damage response of the RNR genes.