Here we examine the roles of budding-yeast checkpoint proteins in regulating degradation of dsDNA to ssDNA at unprotected telomeres (in Cdc13 telomere-binding protein defective strains). We find that Rad17, Mec3, as well as Rad24, members of the putative checkpoint clamp loader (Rad24) and sliding clamp (Rad17, Mec3) complexes, are important for promoting degradation of dsDNA in and near telomere repeats. We find that Mec1, Rad53, as well as Rad9, have the opposite role: they inhibit degradation. Downstream checkpoint kinases Chk1 and Dun1 play no detectable role in either promoting degradation or inhibiting it. These data suggest, first, that the checkpoint sliding clamp regulates and/or recruits some nucleases for degradation, and, second, that Mec1 activates Rad9 to activate Rad53 to inhibit degradation. Further analysis shows that Rad9 inhibits ssDNA generation by both Mec1/Rad53-dependent and -independent pathways. Exo1 appears to be targeted by the Mec1/Rad53-dependent pathway. Finally, analysis of double mutants suggests a minor role for Mec1 in promoting Rad24-dependent degradation of dsDNA. Thus, checkpoint proteins orchestrate carefully ssDNA production at unprotected telomeres.
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