REC-1 and HIM-5 distribute meiotic crossovers and function redundantly in meiotic double-strand break formation in Caenorhabditis elegans

The Caenorhabditis elegans gene rec-1 was the first genetic locus identified in metazoa to affect the distribution of meiotic crossovers along the chromosome. We report that rec-1 encodes a distant paralog of HIM-5, which was discovered by whole-genome sequencing and confirmed by multiple genome-edited alleles. REC-1 is phosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) in vitro, and mutation of the CDK consensus sites in REC-1 compromises meiotic crossover distribution in vivo. Unexpectedly, rec-1; him-5 double mutants are synthetic-lethal due to a defect in meiotic double-strand break formation. Thus, we uncovered an unexpected robustness to meiotic DSB formation and crossover positioning that is executed by HIM-5 and REC-1 and regulated by phosphorylation.