The Francis Crick Institute
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Defining the influence of Rad51 and Dmc1 lineage-specific amino acids on genetic recombination.

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-10-28, 14:05 authored by Justin B Steinfeld, Ondrej Beláň, Youngho Kwon, Tsuyoshi Terakawa, Amr Al-Zain, Michael J Smith, J Brooks Crickard, Zhi Qi, Weixing Zhao, Rodney Rothstein, Lorraine S Symington, Patrick Sung, Simon J Boulton, Eric C Greene
The vast majority of eukaryotes possess two DNA recombinases: Rad51, which is ubiquitously expressed, and Dmc1, which is meiosis-specific. The evolutionary origins of this two-recombinase system remain poorly understood. Interestingly, Dmc1 can stabilize mismatch-containing base triplets, whereas Rad51 cannot. Here, we demonstrate that this difference can be attributed to three amino acids conserved only within the Dmc1 lineage of the Rad51/RecA family. Chimeric Rad51 mutants harboring Dmc1-specific amino acids gain the ability to stabilize heteroduplex DNA joints with mismatch-containing base triplets, whereas Dmc1 mutants with Rad51-specific amino acids lose this ability. Remarkably, RAD-51 from Caenorhabditis elegans, an organism without Dmc1, has acquired "Dmc1-like" amino acids. Chimeric C. elegans RAD-51 harboring "canonical" Rad51 amino acids gives rise to toxic recombination intermediates, which must be actively dismantled to permit normal meiotic progression. We propose that Dmc1 lineage-specific amino acids involved in the stabilization of heteroduplex DNA joints with mismatch-containing base triplets may contribute to normal meiotic recombination.


Crick (Grant ID: 10048, Grant title: Boulton FC001048) European Research Council (Grant ID: 742437 - TelMetab, Grant title: ERC 742437 - TelMetab)