Cell and Molecular Biology Monday Seminar Series: Yves Barral (ETH Zurich) - How yeast cells distinguish chromosomal and non-chromosomal DNA

  • Title:  How yeast cells distinguish their chromosomes from non-chromosomal DNA and how this makes them age
  • When:  Monday 15 January 2018
  • Time:  12 pm
  • Location: G.27 Lecture Theatre 1, Daniel Rutherford Building
  • Host:  Bill Earnshaw


Prokaryotes have both innate and adaptive immunity systems to protect themselves against the intrusion and deleterious effects of foreign DNA molecules such as viruses and plasmids.  However, despite the fact that eukaryotes appear tom protect their genome even more efficiently than bacteria against lateral gene transfer, we still know very little about how they do so.  Here, we will use the case of budding and fission yeast to investigate whether eukaryotes distinguish chromosomal from non-chromosomal DNA to prevent the propagation of the later, and how they do so.  I will present evidence that yeast cells distinguish non-centromeric DNA circles from their chromosomes during mitosis, in a process that involves novel aspects of centromere function. I will also show how this ensures the elimination of these DNA circles from the population. Remarkably, this process leads to the accumulation of DNA circles in the mother cell, where they contribute to replicative ageing. I will discuss our current understanding of this process. Together, our data provide insights into how eukaryotes might distinguish self from foreign DNA and how this might affect centromere evolution, speciation and ageing.

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