Considerable homology has recently been noted between the proteins encoded by the RAD5, RAD16 and RAD54 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These genes are members of the RAD6, RAD3 and RAD50 epistasis groups, respectively, which correspond to the three major DNA repair pathways in yeast. These proteins also share homology with other eucaryotic proteins, including those encoded by SNF2 and MOT1 of yeast, brahma and lodestar of Drosophila and the human ERCC6 gene. The homology shares features with known helicases, suggesting a newly identified helicase subfamily. We have constructed a series of congenic single-, double- and triple-deletion mutants involving RAD5, RAD16 and RAD54 to examine the interactions between these genes. Each deletion mutation alone has only a moderate effect on survival after exposure to UV radiation. Each pairwise-double mutant exhibits marked synergism. The triple-deletion mutant displays further synergism. These results confirm the assignment of the RAD54 gene to the RAD50 epistasis group and suggest that the RAD16 gene plays a larger role in DNA repair after exposure to UV radiation than has been suggested previously. Additionally, the proteins encoded by RAD5, RAD16 and RAD54 may compete for the same substrate after damage induced by UV radiation, possibly at an early step in their respective pathways.

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