Origin licensing ensures that the eukaryotic genome is replicated precisely once per cell cycle. During the G1 phase, replication origins are licensed by the binding of MCM2-7 complexes, the replicative helicases, and are regulated to fire only once during S phase. It is believed that MCM2-7 complexes exist on chromatin in a >10-fold excess over active replication origins, and that unused MCM2-7 complexes are most likely displaced from the chromatin by ongoing replication forks during S phase. The reason for this overabundance of the MCM2-7 complexes on chromatin has remained largely unknown. However, a current hypothesis proposes that these excess MCM2-7 complexes are dispensable in normal S phase but are required to survive perturbed S phase as they provide backup origins. Here, we propose that these backup origins exist abundantly because their use allows for the rescue of stalled forks in a recombination-free manner. Moreover, this anti-recombinogenic role of backup origins is required for tumor suppression, because a ~50% loss of backup origins leads to spontaneous tumorigenesis in Mcm4Chaos3/Chaos3 mice with complete penetrance. The goal of this proposal is to unravel the role of backup origins in tumor suppression using Mcm4Chaos3 mice. The following are our specific aims. 1) Demonstrate that backup origin rescue is reduced in Mcm4Chaos3/Chaos3 cells. The use of backup origins and their role in fork recovery will be tested using a single molecule analysis called DNA fiber. 2) Demonstrate that chromosome regions with few backup origins are fragile. By combining chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) on chip and cytogenetic analyses, we will test backup origin levels as one of the determining factors for common fragile sites, specific loci particularly susceptible to fork stalling. 3) Prove that backup origins suppress homologous recombination and tumorigenesis. We will determine the role of backup origins in suppressing illegitimate recombination using a transgenic locus called FYDR. The contribution of excessive homologous recombination to Mcm4Chaos3 tumorigenesis will be tested in a BLM- deficient background to resolve recombination intermediates via crossing-over. 4) Test if the loss of backup origins and homologous recombination is synthetic lethal. To test the critical contribution of backup origins to fork recovery, we will determine if concomitant impairment of backup origin rescue and homologous recombination results in synthetic lethality and tumor suppression. The expected outcomes would have a significant impact on our understanding of pathway choice for fork recovery and developing new cancer therapies, as the role of backup origins has been largely ignored. Furthermore, the expected results will demonstrate that under-licensing of replication origins alone causes cancer, strengthening the current view that deregulated origin licensing has a causative role for the genome instability observed in cancer.
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