Mating-type switching in fission yeast follows similar rules as in budding yeast, but the underlying mechanisms are entirely different. Whilst the initiating double-strand cut in Saccharomyces cerevisiae requires recombinational repair for survival, the initial damage in Schizosaccharomyces pombe only affects a single strand, which can be sealed by gap repair in situ, whether or not it serves as an imprint for subsequent switching of mating type from an appropriate donor cassette. Recent papers have linked the transient stalling of a replication fork to the generation of a site-specific nick. This discontinuity then remains protected for a full cell cycle, until it interferes with replication in the next S-phase. It, thereby, represents a valuable model system to study the molecular safeguards to protect a replication fork at a predetermined hindrance to leading-strand extension. The versatility of this experimental system has increased further yet by the recent development of a conditional setup, where imprinting and switching can be repressed or derepressed in response to external stimuli. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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