In budding yeast and mammals, double-strand breaks (DSBs) trigger global chromatin mobility together with rapid phosphorylation of histone H2A over an extensive region of the chromatin. To assess the role of H2A phosphorylation in this response to DNA damage, we have constructed strains where H2A has been mutated to the phosphomimetic H2A-S129E. We show that mimicking H2A phosphorylation leads to an increase in global chromatin mobility in the absence of DNA damage. The intrinsic chromatin mobility of H2A-S129E is not due to downstream checkpoint activation, histone degradation or kinetochore anchoring. Rather, the increased intrachromosomal distances observed in the H2A-S129E mutant are consistent with chromatin structural changes. Strikingly, in this context the Rad9-dependent checkpoint becomes dispensable. Moreover, increased chromatin dynamics in the H2A-S129E mutant correlates with improved DSB repair by non-homologous end joining and a sharp decrease in interchromosomal translocation rate. We propose that changes in chromosomal conformation due to H2A phosphorylation are sufficient to modulate the DNA damage response and maintain genome integrity.

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