Ribosomal DNA stability is supported by many ‘buffer genes’—introduction to the Yeast rDNA Stability Database

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The ribosomal RNA gene (rDNA) is the most abundant gene in yeast and other eukaryotic organisms. Due to its heavy transcription, repetitive structure and programmed replication fork pauses, the rDNA is one of the most unstable regions in the genome. Thus, the rDNA is the best region to study the mechanisms responsible for maintaining genome integrity. Recently, we screened a library of ˜4800 budding yeast gene knockout strains to identify mutants defective in the maintenance of rDNA stability. The results of this screen are summarized in the Yeast rDNA Stability (YRS) Database, in which the stability and copy number of rDNA in each mutant are presented. From this screen, we identified ˜700 genes that may contribute to the maintenance of rDNA stability. In addition, ˜50 mutants had abnormally high or low rDNA copy numbers. Moreover, some mutants with unstable rDNA displayed abnormalities in another chromosome. In this review, we introduce the YRS Database and discuss the roles of newly identified genes that contribute to rDNA maintenance and genome integrity.

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