Circular DNA can arise from all parts of eukaryotic chromosomes. In yeast, circular ribosomal DNA (rDNA) accumulates dramatically as cells age, however little is known about the accumulation of other chromosome-derived circles or the contribution of such circles to genetic variation in aged cells. We profiled circular DNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae populations sampled when young and after extensive aging. Young cells possessed highly diverse circular DNA populations but 94% of the circular DNA were lost after ∼15 divisions, whereas rDNA circles underwent massive accumulation to >95% of circular DNA. Circles present in both young and old cells were characterized by replication origins including circles from unique regions of the genome and repetitive regions: rDNA and telomeric Y' regions. We further observed that circles can have flexible inheritance patterns: [HXT6/7circle] normally segregates to mother cells but in low glucose is present in up to 50% of cells, the majority of which must have inherited this circle from their mother. Interestingly, [HXT6/7circle] cells are eventually replaced by cells carrying stable chromosomal HXT6 HXT6/7 HXT7 amplifications, suggesting circular DNAs are intermediates in chromosomal amplifications. In conclusion, the heterogeneity of circular DNA offers flexibility in adaptation, but this heterogeneity is remarkably diminished with age.
Prada-Luengo, I., Møller, H. D., Henriksen, R. A., Gao, Q., Larsen, C. E., Alizadeh, S., … Regenberg, B. (2020). Replicative aging is associated with loss of genetic heterogeneity from extrachromosomal circular DNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nucleic Acids Research, 48(14), 7883–7898. https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkaa545