Can eukaryotic cells monitor the presence of unreplicated DNA?
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Completion of DNA replication before mitosis is essential for genome stability and cell viability. Cellular controls called checkpoints act as surveillance mechanisms capable of detecting errors and blocking cell cycle progression to allow time for those errors to be corrected. An important question in the cell cycle field is whether eukaryotic cells possess mechanisms that monitor ongoing DNA replication and make sure that all chromosomes are fully replicated before entering mitosis, that is whether a replication-completion checkpoint exists. From recent studies with smc5–smc6 mutants it appears that yeast cells can enter anaphase without noticing that replication in the ribosomal DNA array was unfinished. smc5–smc6 mutants are proficient in all known cellular checkpoints, namely the S phase checkpoint, DNA-damage checkpoint, and spindle checkpoint, thus suggesting that none of these checkpoints can monitor the presence of unreplicated segments or the unhindered progression of forks in rDNA. Therefore, these results strongly suggest that normal yeast cells do not contain a DNA replication-completion checkpoint.