Abstract / Description of output
Two alleles of the Drosophila melanogaster Rfc4 (DmRfc4) gene, which encodes subunit 4 of the replication factor C (RFC) complex, cause striking defects in mitotic chromosome cohesion and condensation. These mutations produce larval phenotypes consistent with a role in DNA replication but also result in mitotic chromosomal defects appearing either as premature chromosome condensation-like or precocious sister chromatid separation figures. Though the DmRFC4 protein localizes to all replicating nuclei, it is dispersed from chromatin in mitosis. Thus the mitotic defects appear not to be the result of a direct role for RFC4 in chromosome structure. We also show that the mitotic defects in these two DmRfc4 alleles are the result of aberrant checkpoint control in response to DNA replication inhibition or damage to chromosomes. Not all surveillance function is compromised in these mutants, as the kinetochore attachment checkpoint is operative. Intriguingly, metaphase delay is frequently observed with the more severe of the two alleles, indicating that subsequent chromosome segregation may be inhibited. This is the first demonstration that subunit 4 of RFC functions in checkpoint control in any organism, and our findings additionally emphasize the conserved nature of RFC's involvement in checkpoint control in multicellular eukaryotes.