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1.  Ctf18 is required for homologous recombination-mediated double-strand break repair 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(15):4989-5000.
The efficient repair of double-strand breaks (DSBs) is crucial in maintaining genomic integrity. Sister chromatid cohesion is important for not only faithful chromosome segregation but also for proper DSB repair. During DSB repair, the Smc1–Smc3 cohesin complex is loaded onto chromatin around the DSB to support recombination-mediated DSB repair. In this study, we investigated whether Ctf18, a factor implicated in the establishment of sister chromatid cohesion, is involved in DSB repair in budding yeast. Ctf18 was recruited to HO-endonuclease induced DSB sites in an Mre11-dependent manner and to damaged chromatin in G2/M phase-arrested cells. The ctf18 mutant cells showed high sensitivity to DSB-inducible genotoxic agents and defects in DSB repair, as well as defects in damage-induced recombination between sister chromatids and between homologous chromosomes. These results suggest that Ctf18 is involved in damage-induced homologous recombination.
PMCID: PMC1976461  PMID: 17636314
2.  A New Thermosensitive smc-3 Allele Reveals Involvement of Cohesin in Homologous Recombination in C. elegans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24799.
The cohesin complex is required for the cohesion of sister chromatids and for correct segregation during mitosis and meiosis. Crossover recombination, together with cohesion, is essential for the disjunction of homologous chromosomes during the first meiotic division. Cohesin has been implicated in facilitating recombinational repair of DNA lesions via the sister chromatid. Here, we made use of a new temperature-sensitive mutation in the Caenorhabditis elegans SMC-3 protein to study the role of cohesin in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and hence in meiotic crossing over. We report that attenuation of cohesin was associated with extensive SPO-11–dependent chromosome fragmentation, which is representative of unrepaired DSBs. We also found that attenuated cohesin likely increased the number of DSBs and eliminated the need of MRE-11 and RAD-50 for DSB formation in C. elegans, which suggests a role for the MRN complex in making cohesin-loaded chromatin susceptible to meiotic DSBs. Notably, in spite of largely intact sister chromatid cohesion, backup DSB repair via the sister chromatid was mostly impaired. We also found that weakened cohesins affected mitotic repair of DSBs by homologous recombination, whereas NHEJ repair was not affected. Our data suggest that recombinational DNA repair makes higher demands on cohesins than does chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC3177864  PMID: 21957461
3.  Two Replication Fork Maintenance Pathways Fuse Inverted Repeats to Rearrange Chromosomes 
Nature  2013;501(7468):569-572.
Replication fork (RF) maintenance pathways preserve chromosomes, but their faulty application at nonallelic repeats could generate rearrangements causing cancer, genomic disorders and speciation1-3. Potential causal mechanisms are homologous recombination (HR) and error-free postreplication repair (EF-PRR). HR repairs damage induced DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and single-ended DSBs within replication. To facilitate HR, the recombinase RAD51 and mediator BRCA2 form a filament on the 3’ DNA strand at a break to enable annealing to the complementary sister chromatid4 while the RecQ helicase, BLM (Bloom syndrome mutated) suppresses crossing over to prevent recombination5. HR also stabilizes6,7 and restarts8,9 RFs without a DSB10,11. EF-PRR bypasses DNA incongruities that impede replication by ubiquitinating PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) using the RAD6/RAD18 and UBC13/MMS2/RAD5 ubiquitin ligase complexes12. Some components are common to both HR and EF-PRR like RAD51 and RAD1813,14. Here we delineate two pathways that spontaneously fuse inverted repeats to generate unstable chromosomal rearrangements in wild type mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. Gamma-radiation induced a BLM-regulated pathway that selectively fused identical, but not mismatched repeats. By contrast, UV light induced a RAD18-dependent pathway that efficiently fused mismatched repeats. Furthermore, TREX2 (a 3’→5’ exonuclease) suppressed identical repeat fusion but enhanced mismatched repeat fusion, clearly separating these pathways. TREX2 associated with UBC13 and enhanced PCNA ubiquitination in response to UV light, consistent with it being a novel member of EF-PRR. RAD18 and TREX2 also suppressed RF stalling in response to nucleotide depletion. Interestingly, RF stalling induced fusion for identical and mismatched repeats implicating faulty replication as a causal mechanism for both pathways.
PMCID: PMC3805358  PMID: 24013173
4.  A Single Cohesin Complex Performs Mitotic and Meiotic Functions in the Protist Tetrahymena 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003418.
The cohesion of sister chromatids in the interval between chromosome replication and anaphase is important for preventing the precocious separation, and hence nondisjunction, of chromatids. Cohesion is accomplished by a ring-shaped protein complex, cohesin; and its release at anaphase occurs when separase cleaves the complex's α-kleisin subunit. Cohesin has additional roles in facilitating DNA damage repair from the sister chromatid and in regulating gene expression. We tested the universality of the present model of cohesion by studying cohesin in the evolutionarily distant protist Tetrahymena thermophila. Localization of tagged cohesin components Smc1p and Rec8p (the α-kleisin) showed that cohesin is abundant in mitotic and meiotic nuclei. RNAi knockdown experiments demonstrated that cohesin is crucial for normal chromosome segregation and meiotic DSB repair. Unexpectedly, cohesin does not detach from chromosome arms in anaphase, yet chromosome segregation depends on the activity of separase (Esp1p). When Esp1p is depleted by RNAi, chromosomes become polytenic as they undergo multiple rounds of replication, but fail to separate. The cohesion of such bundles of numerous chromatids suggests that chromatids may be connected by factors in addition to topological linkage by cohesin rings. Although cohesin is not detected in transcriptionally active somatic nuclei, its loss causes a slight defect in their amitotic division. Notably, Tetrahymena uses a single version of α-kleisin for both mitosis and meiosis. Therefore, we propose that the differentiation of mitotic and meiotic cohesins found in most other model systems is not due to the need of a specialized meiotic cohesin, but due to additional roles of mitotic cohesin.
Author Summary
During cell division, identical DNA molecules, packaged in the sister chromatids of a chromosome, must be distributed to daughter cells. The cohesion of sister chromatids in the interval between DNA replication and mitotic anaphase is important for preventing the precocious separation, and hence nondisjunction, of chromatids. Cohesion is accomplished by a ring-shaped protein complex, cohesin; and a popular model of cohesion holds that sister chromatids are encircled by cohesin rings and separate upon opening of the rings. During meiosis, cohesin, together with chiasmata, has the additional function of holding bivalents together. Cohesin also has functions in gene regulation and DNA damage repair, and has recently garnered attention as a factor involved in human congenital birth defects. We have studied cohesin in the protist Tetrahymena, which has mitosis/meiosis and transcription performed by different nuclei within the same cell. We exploited this unique feature to experimentally separate the functions of cohesin in chromosome segregation and gene regulation. While the cohesin machinery is generally conserved between eukaryotes, Tetrahymena's phylogenetic distance from standard model organisms allowed us to discover some notable adaptations during the course of evolution.
PMCID: PMC3610610  PMID: 23555314
5.  Importance of Polη for Damage-Induced Cohesion Reveals Differential Regulation of Cohesion Establishment at the Break Site and Genome-Wide 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003158.
Genome integrity depends on correct chromosome segregation, which in turn relies on cohesion between sister chromatids from S phase until anaphase. S phase cohesion, together with DNA double-strand break (DSB) recruitment of cohesin and formation of damage-induced (DI) cohesion, has previously been shown to be required also for efficient postreplicative DSB repair. The budding yeast acetyltransferase Eco1 (Ctf7) is a common essential factor for S phase and DI-cohesion. The fission yeast Eco1 ortholog, Eso1, is expressed as a fusion protein with the translesion synthesis (TLS) polymerase Polη. The involvement of Eso1 in S phase cohesion was attributed to the Eco1 homologous part of the protein and bypass of UV-induced DNA lesions to the Polη part. Here we describe an additional novel function for budding yeast Polη, i.e. formation of postreplicative DI genome-wide cohesion. This is a unique Polη function not shared with other TLS polymerases. However, Polη deficient cells are DSB repair competent, as Polη is not required for cohesion locally at the DSB. This reveals differential regulation of DSB–proximal cohesion and DI genome-wide cohesion, and challenges the importance of the latter for DSB repair. Intriguingly, we found that specific inactivation of DI genome-wide cohesion increases chromosomal mis-segregation at the entrance of the next cell cycle, suggesting that S phase cohesion is not sufficient for correct chromosome segregation in the presence of DNA damage.
Author Summary
Correct chromosome segregation requires that sister chromatids are held together by the protein complex cohesin, from S phase until anaphase. This S phase established cohesion is, together with DSB recruitment of cohesin and formation of damage-induced (DI) cohesion, also important for repair of DSBs. Eco1 is a common essential factor for S phase and DI-cohesion. The fission yeast Eco1 ortholog, Eso1, is important both for S phase cohesion and for bypass of UV-induced lesions, and is expressed as a fusion protein with Polη. The cohesion function has been attributed solely to Eso1 and the lesion bypass function to the Polη part of the protein. As we found the interaction between the two proteins intriguing, we decided to look for a functional connection also in budding yeast. Indeed, despite being dispensable for S phase cohesion, budding yeast Polη is required for formation of DI genome-wide cohesion. However, Polη-deficient cells are DSB repair competent, revealing differential regulation of DI-cohesion at the break and genome-wide. This finding challenges the importance of DI genome-wide cohesion for DSB repair, and based on our findings we suggest that S phase cohesion is not sufficient for correct chromosome segregation in the presence of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3542068  PMID: 23326240
6.  Systematic Reduction of Cohesin Differentially Affects Chromosome Segregation, Condensation, and DNA Repair 
Current biology : CB  2010;20(10):957-963.
Cohesin’s complex distribution on chromosomes and its implication in numerous cellular processes makes it an excellent paradigm for studying the relationship between the in vivo concentration of a protein and its in vivo function. Here, we report a method to generate systematic quantized reductions (QR) in the in vivo concentration of any yeast protein. Using QR, we generate strains with 13% and 30% of wild-type levels of the limiting subunit of cohesin, Mcd1p/Scc1p/Rad21p. Reducing cohesin levels reveals a preferential binding of cohesin to pericentric regions over cohesin-associated regions (CAR) on chromosome arms. Chromosome condensation, repetitive DNA stability, and DNA repair are compromised by decreasing cohesin levels to 30% of wild-type levels. In contrast, sister chromatid cohesion and chromosome segregation are unaffected even when cohesin levels are reduced to 13% of wild-type levels. The requirement for different in vivo cohesin concentrations to achieve distinct cohesin functions provides an explanation for how cohesin mutations can specifically lead to adult disorders such as Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and Roberts Syndrome without compromising the cell divisions needed for development and maturation. Our successful application of QR to cohesin suggests that QR is a powerful tool to study other proteins/pathways with multiple functions.
PMCID: PMC2892909  PMID: 20451387
7.  Tying the loose ends together in DNA double strand break repair with 53BP1 
Cell Division  2006;1:19.
To maintain genomic stability and ensure the fidelity of chromosomal transmission, cells respond to various forms of genotoxic stress, including DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs), through the activation of DNA damage response signaling networks. In response to DSBs as induced by ionizing radiation (IR), during DNA replication, or through immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) rearrangements in B cells of lymphoid origin, the phosphatidyl inositol-like kinase (PIK) kinases ATM (mutated in ataxia telangiectasia), ATR (ATM and Rad3-related kinase), and the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) activate signaling pathways that lead to DSB repair. DSBs are repaired by either of two major, non-mutually exclusive pathways: homologous recombination (HR) that utilizes an undamaged sister chromatid template (or homologous chromosome) and non- homologous end joining (NHEJ), an error prone mechanism that processes and joins broken DNA ends through the coordinated effort of a small set of ubiquitous factors (DNA-PKcs, Ku70, Ku80, artemis, Xrcc4/DNA lig IV, and XLF/Cernunnos). The PIK kinases phosphorylate a variety of effector substrates that propagate the DNA damage signal, ultimately resulting in various biological outputs that influence cell cycle arrest, transcription, DNA repair, and apoptosis. A variety of data has revealed a critical role for p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1) in the cellular response to DSBs including various aspects of p53 function. Importantly, 53BP1 plays a major role in suppressing translocations, particularly in B and T cells. This report will review past experiments and current knowledge regarding the role of 53BP1 in the DNA damage response.
PMCID: PMC1601952  PMID: 16945145
8.  Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) Proteins Promote Homolog-Independent Recombination Repair in Meiosis Crucial for Germ Cell Genomic Stability 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(7):e1001028.
In meiosis, programmed DNA breaks repaired by homologous recombination (HR) can be processed into inter-homolog crossovers that promote the accurate segregation of chromosomes. In general, more programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are formed than the number of inter-homolog crossovers, and the excess DSBs must be repaired to maintain genomic stability. Sister-chromatid (inter-sister) recombination is postulated to be important for the completion of meiotic DSB repair. However, this hypothesis is difficult to test because of limited experimental means to disrupt inter-sister and not inter-homolog HR in meiosis. We find that the conserved Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) 5 and 6 proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans are required for the successful completion of meiotic homologous recombination repair, yet they appeared to be dispensable for accurate chromosome segregation in meiosis. Mutations in the smc-5 and smc-6 genes induced chromosome fragments and dismorphology. Chromosome fragments associated with HR defects have only been reported in mutants, which have disrupted inter-homolog crossover. Surprisingly, the smc-5 and smc-6 mutations did not disrupt the formation of chiasmata, the cytologically visible linkages between homologous chromosomes formed from meiotic inter-homolog crossovers. The mutant fragmentation defect appeared to be preferentially enhanced by the disruptions of inter-homolog recombination but not by the disruptions of inter-sister recombination. Based on these findings, we propose that the C. elegans SMC-5/6 proteins are required in meiosis for the processing of homolog-independent, presumably sister-chromatid-mediated, recombination repair. Together, these results demonstrate that the successful completion of homolog-independent recombination is crucial for germ cell genomic stability.
Author Summary
Sperm and oocytes are essential for the faithful transmission of genetic information during sexual reproduction. As germ cells mature into sperm and oocytes, DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are deliberately created on each chromosome and a subset of DSBs is repaired to form meiotic crossovers between homologous chromosomes. Because germ cells must undergo this programmed process of deliberate DNA damage and repair, identifying repair factors active in germ cells and determining the requirement of their functions in meiotic DSB repair are important first steps in understanding infertility and developmental disorders caused by defective sperm and oocytes. In this manuscript, we find that the evolutionarily conserved SMC-5 and SMC-6 proteins fulfill a critical role in preserving genomic stability in germ cells in C. elegans. Our findings further describe the genetic mechanisms by which the C. elegans SMC-5/6 proteins function in meiotic DSB repair. These data reveal that inter-sister homologous recombination, a repair mechanism thought to function as a back-up repair method in meiosis, serves a more significant role in normal meiosis than was previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC2908675  PMID: 20661436
9.  Distinct Targets of the Eco1 Acetyltransferase Modulate Cohesion in S Phase and in Response to DNA Damage 
Molecular cell  2009;34(3):311-321.
Chromosome segregation and the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) require cohesin, the protein complex that mediates sister chromatid cohesion. Cohesion requires both a chromatin binding step and a subsequent tethering step called cohesion generation. Here we provide insight into how cohesion generation is restricted to S phase but can be activated in G2/M by a DSB in budding yeast. We show that Wpl1p inhibits cohesion in G2/M. A DSB counteracts Wpl1p and stimulates cohesion generation by first inducing the phosphorylation of the Mcd1p subunit of cohesin. This phosphorylation activates Eco1p-dependent acetylation of Mcd1p, which in turn antagonizes Wpl1p. Previous studies show that Eco1p antagonizes Wpl1p in S phase by acetylating the Smc3p subunit of cohesin. We show that Mcd1p and Smc3p acetylation antagonize Wpl1p only in their proper context. Thus, Eco1p antagonizes Wpl1p in distinct ways to modulate cohesion generation during the cell cycle and after DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC2737744  PMID: 19450529
10.  Smc5/6 Is Required for Repair at Collapsed Replication Forks▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(24):9387-9401.
In eukaryotes, three pairs of structural-maintenance-of-chromosome (SMC) proteins are found in conserved multisubunit protein complexes required for chromosomal organization. Cohesin, the Smc1/3 complex, mediates sister chromatid cohesion while two condensin complexes containing Smc2/4 facilitate chromosome condensation. Smc5/6 scaffolds an essential complex required for homologous recombination repair. We have examined the response of smc6 mutants to the inhibition of DNA replication. We define homologous recombination-dependent and -independent functions for Smc6 during replication inhibition and provide evidence for a Rad60-independent function within S phase, in addition to a Rad60-dependent function following S phase. Both genetic and physical data show that when forks collapse (i.e., are not stabilized by the Cds1Chk2 checkpoint), Smc6 is required for the effective repair of resulting lesions but not for the recruitment of recombination proteins. We further demonstrate that when the Rad60-dependent, post-S-phase Smc6 function is compromised, the resulting recombination-dependent DNA intermediates that accumulate following release from replication arrest are not recognized by the G2/M checkpoint.
PMCID: PMC1698528  PMID: 17030601
11.  The cohesin complex is required for the DNA damage-induced G2/M checkpoint in mammalian cells 
The EMBO Journal  2009;28(17):2625-2635.
Cohesin complexes mediate sister chromatid cohesion. Cohesin also becomes enriched at DNA double-strand break sites and facilitates recombinational DNA repair. Here we report that cohesin is essential for the DNA damage induced G2/M checkpoint. In contrast to cohesin’s role in DNA repair, the checkpoint function of cohesin is independent of its ability to mediate cohesion. After RNAi-mediated depletion of cohesin, cells fail to properly activate the checkpoint kinase Chk2 and have defects in recruiting the mediator protein 53BP1 to DNA damage sites. Previous work has shown that phosphorylation of the cohesin subunits Smc1 and Smc3 is required for the intra-S checkpoint, but Smc1/Smc3 are also subunits of a distinct recombination complex, RC-1. It was, therefore, unknown if Smc1/Smc3 function in the intra-S checkpoint as part of cohesin. We show that Smc1/3 are phosphorylated as part of cohesin and that cohesin is required for the intra-S checkpoint. We propose that accumulation of cohesin at DNA break sites is not only needed to mediate DNA repair but also facilitates the recruitment of checkpoint proteins, which activate the intra-S and G2/M checkpoints.
PMCID: PMC2738698  PMID: 19629043
Cell Cycle Proteins; genetics; metabolism; Cell Division; Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone; genetics; metabolism; DNA Damage; physiology; G2 Phase; Genes, cdc; Hela Cells; Humans; Nuclear Proteins; genetics; metabolism; Phosphorylation; Protein Subunits; genetics; metabolism; Sister Chromatid Exchange; Cohesin; chromatin; DNA double-strand break; DNA damage checkpoint; 53BP1; Chk2
12.  Functional characterization of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein Chl1 reveals the role of sister chromatid cohesion in the maintenance of spindle length during S-phase arrest 
BMC Genetics  2011;12:83.
Metaphase cells have short spindles for efficient bi-orientation of chromosomes. The cohesin proteins hold sister chromatids together, creating Sister Chromatid Cohesion (SCC) that helps in the maintenance of short spindle lengths in metaphase. The budding yeast protein Chl1p, which has human homologs, is required for DNA damage repair, recombination, transcriptional silencing and aging. This protein is also needed to establish SCC between sister chromatids in S-phase.
In the present study we have further characterized Chl1p for its role in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae when cells are under replication stress. We show that when DNA replication is arrested by hydroxyurea (HU), the chl1 mutation causes growth deficiency and a mild loss in cell viability. Although both mutant and wild-type cells remained arrested with undivided nuclei, mutant cells had mitotic spindles, which were about 60-80% longer than wild-type spindles. Spindle extension occurred in S-phase in the presence of an active S-phase checkpoint pathway. Further, the chl1 mutant did not show any kinetochore-related defect that could have caused spindle extension. These cells were affected in the retention of SCC in that they had only about one-fourth of the normal levels of the cohesin subunit Scc1p at centromeres, which was sufficient to bi-orient the chromosomes. The mutant cells showed defects in SCC, both during its establishment in S-phase and in its maintenance in G2. Mutants with partial and pericentromeric cohesion defects also showed spindle elongation when arrested in S-phase by HU.
Our work shows that Chl1p is required for normal growth and cell viability in the presence of the replication block caused by HU. The absence of this protein does not, however, compromize the replication checkpoint pathway. Even though the chl1 mutation gives synthetic lethal interactions with kinetochore mutations, its absence does not affect kinetochore function; kinetochore-microtubule interactions remain unperturbed. Further, chl1 cells were found to lose SCC at centromeres in both S- and G2 phases, showing the requirement of Chl1p for the maintenance of cohesion in G2 phase of these cells. This work documents for the first time that SCC is an important determinant of spindle size in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae when genotoxic agents cause S-phase arrest of cells.
PMCID: PMC3190345  PMID: 21943249
Yeast; Chl1; cohesion; spindle; hydroxyurea
13.  Phosphorylation of Exo1 modulates homologous recombination repair of DNA double-strand breaks 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(6):1821-1831.
DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair via the homologous recombination pathway is a multi-stage process, which results in repair of the DSB without loss of genetic information or fidelity. One essential step in this process is the generation of extended single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) regions at the break site. This ssDNA serves to induce cell cycle checkpoints and is required for Rad51 mediated strand invasion of the sister chromatid. Here, we show that human Exonuclease 1 (Exo1) is required for the normal repair of DSBs by HR. Cells depleted of Exo1 show chromosomal instability and hypersensitivity to ionising radiation (IR) exposure. We find that Exo1 accumulates rapidly at DSBs and is required for the recruitment of RPA and Rad51 to sites of DSBs, suggesting a role for Exo1 in ssDNA generation. Interestingly, the phosphorylation of Exo1 by ATM appears to regulate the activity of Exo1 following resection, allowing optimal Rad51 loading and the completion of HR repair. These data establish a role for Exo1 in resection of DSBs in human cells, highlighting the critical requirement of Exo1 for DSB repair via HR and thus the maintenance of genomic stability.
PMCID: PMC2847229  PMID: 20019063
14.  Frequent and Efficient Use of the Sister Chromatid for DNA Double-Strand Break Repair during Budding Yeast Meiosis 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(10):e1000520.
Studies of DNA double-strand break repair during meiosis reveal that a substantial fraction of recombination occurs between sister chromatids.
Recombination between homologous chromosomes of different parental origin (homologs) is necessary for their accurate segregation during meiosis. It has been suggested that meiotic inter-homolog recombination is promoted by a barrier to inter-sister-chromatid recombination, imposed by meiosis-specific components of the chromosome axis. Consistent with this, measures of Holliday junction–containing recombination intermediates (joint molecules [JMs]) show a strong bias towards inter-homolog and against inter-sister JMs. However, recombination between sister chromatids also has an important role in meiosis. The genomes of diploid organisms in natural populations are highly polymorphic for insertions and deletions, and meiotic double-strand breaks (DSBs) that form within such polymorphic regions must be repaired by inter-sister recombination. Efforts to study inter-sister recombination during meiosis, in particular to determine recombination frequencies and mechanisms, have been constrained by the inability to monitor the products of inter-sister recombination. We present here molecular-level studies of inter-sister recombination during budding yeast meiosis. We examined events initiated by DSBs in regions that lack corresponding sequences on the homolog, and show that these DSBs are efficiently repaired by inter-sister recombination. This occurs with the same timing as inter-homolog recombination, but with reduced (2- to 3-fold) yields of JMs. Loss of the meiotic-chromosome-axis-associated kinase Mek1 accelerates inter-sister DSB repair and markedly increases inter-sister JM frequencies. Furthermore, inter-sister JMs formed in mek1Δ mutants are preferentially lost, while inter-homolog JMs are maintained. These findings indicate that inter-sister recombination occurs frequently during budding yeast meiosis, with the possibility that up to one-third of all recombination events occur between sister chromatids. We suggest that a Mek1-dependent reduction in the rate of inter-sister repair, combined with the destabilization of inter-sister JMs, promotes inter-homolog recombination while retaining the capacity for inter-sister recombination when inter-homolog recombination is not possible.
Author Summary
In diploid organisms, which contain two parental sets of chromosomes, double-stranded breaks in DNA can be repaired by recombination, either with a copy of the chromosome produced by replication (the sister chromatid), or with either chromatid of the other parental chromosome (the homolog). During meiosis, recombination with the homolog ensures faithful segregation of chromosomes to gametes (sperm or egg). It has been suggested that use of the spatially distant homolog, as opposed to the nearby sister chromatid, results from a meiosis-specific barrier to recombination between sister chromatids. However, there are situations where meiotic recombination must occur between sister chromatids, such as when recombination initiates in sequences that are absent from the homolog. By studying such a situation, we show that meiotic recombination with the sister chromatid occurs with similar timing and efficiency as recombination with the homolog. Further analysis indicates that inter-sister recombination is more common than was previously thought, although still far less prevalent than in somatic cells, where inter-sister recombination predominates. We suggest that meiosis-specific factors act to roughly equalize repair from the sister and homolog, which both allows the establishment of physical connections between homologs and ensures timely repair of breaks incurred in regions lacking corresponding sequences on the homolog.
PMCID: PMC2957403  PMID: 20976044
15.  Sister cohesion and structural axis components mediate homolog bias of meiotic recombination 
Cell  2010;143(6):924-937.
Meiotic recombination occurs between one chromatid of each maternal and paternal homolog (homolog bias) versus between sister chromatids (sister bias). Physical DNA analysis reveals that meiotic cohesin/axis component Rec8 promotes sister bias, likely via its cohesion activity. Two meiosis-specific axis components, Red1/Mek1kinase, counteract this effect. With this precondition satisfied, other molecules directly specify homolog bias per se. Rec8 also acts positively to maintain homolog bias during crossover recombination. These observations point to sequential release of double-strand break ends from association with their sister. Red1 and Rec8 are found to play distinct roles for sister cohesion, DSB formation and recombination progression kinetics. Also, the two components are enriched in spatially distinct domains of axial structure that develop prior to DSB formation. We propose that Red1 and Rec8 domains provide functionally complementary environments whereby inputs evolved from DSB repair and late-stage chromosome morphogenesis are integrated to give the complete meiotic chromosomal program.
PMCID: PMC3033573  PMID: 21145459
16.  RAD21L, a novel cohesin subunit implicated in linking homologous chromosomes in mammalian meiosis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;192(2):263-276.
The meiosis-specific kleisin cohesin subunit, RAD21L, may participate in synapsis initiation and crossover recombination between homologous chromosomes.
Cohesins are multi-subunit protein complexes that regulate sister chromatid cohesion during mitosis and meiosis. Here we identified a novel kleisin subunit of cohesins, RAD21L, which is conserved among vertebrates. In mice, RAD21L is expressed exclusively in early meiosis: it apparently replaces RAD21 in premeiotic S phase, becomes detectable on the axial elements in leptotene, and stays on the axial/lateral elements until mid pachytene. RAD21L then disappears, and is replaced with RAD21. This behavior of RAD21L is unique and distinct from that of REC8, another meiosis-specific kleisin subunit. Remarkably, the disappearance of RAD21L at mid pachytene correlates with the completion of DNA double-strand break repair and the formation of crossovers as judged by colabeling with molecular markers, γ-H2AX, MSH4, and MLH1. RAD21L associates with SMC3, STAG3, and either SMC1α or SMC1β. Our results suggest that cohesin complexes containing RAD21L may be involved in synapsis initiation and crossover recombination between homologous chromosomes.
PMCID: PMC3172173  PMID: 21242291
17.  The Smc complexes in DNA damage response 
Cell & Bioscience  2012;2:5.
The structural maintenance of chromosomes (Smc) proteins regulate nearly all aspects of chromosome biology and are critical for genomic stability. In eukaryotes, six Smc proteins form three heterodimers--Smc1/3, Smc2/4, and Smc5/6--which together with non-Smc proteins form cohesin, condensin, and the Smc5/6 complex, respectively. Cohesin is required for proper chromosome segregation. It establishes and maintains sister-chromatid cohesion until all sister chromatids achieve bipolar attachment to the mitotic spindle. Condensin mediates chromosome condensation during mitosis. The Smc5/6 complex has multiple roles in DNA repair. In addition to their major functions in chromosome cohesion and condensation, cohesin and condensin also participate in the cellular DNA damage response. Here we review recent progress on the functions of all three Smc complexes in DNA repair and their cell cycle regulation by posttranslational modifications, such as acetylation, phosphorylation, and sumoylation. An in-depth understanding of the mechanisms by which these complexes promote DNA repair and genomic stability may help us to uncover the molecular basis of genomic instability in human cancers and devise ways that exploit this instability to treat cancers.
PMCID: PMC3329402  PMID: 22369641
Cohesin; Condensin; Smc5; Smc6; homologous recombination; DNA repair; DNA damage checkpoint; rDNA; SUMO
18.  Transcription of a Donor Enhances Its Use during Double-Strand Break-Induced Gene Conversion in Human Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(8):3098-3105.
Homologous recombination (HR) mediates accurate repair of double-strand breaks (DSBs) but carries the risk of large-scale genetic change, including loss of heterozygosity, deletions, inversions, and translocations. Nearly one-third of the human genome consists of repetitive sequences, and DSB repair by HR often requires choices among several homologous repair templates, including homologous chromosomes, sister chromatids, and linked or unlinked repeats. Donor preference during DSB-induced gene conversion was analyzed by using several HR substrates with three copies of neo targeted to a human chromosome. Repair of I-SceI nuclease-induced DSBs in one neo (the recipient) required a choice between two donor neo genes. When both donors were downstream, there was no significant bias for proximal or distal donors. When donors flanked the recipient, we observed a marked (85%) preference for the downstream donor. Reversing the HR substrate in the chromosome eliminated this preference, indicating that donor choice is influenced by factors extrinsic to the HR substrate. Prior indirect evidence suggested that transcription might increase donor use. We tested this question directly and found that increased transcription of a donor enhances its use during gene conversion. A preference for transcribed donors would minimize the use of nontranscribed (i.e., pseudogene) templates during repair and thus help maintain genome stability.
PMCID: PMC1446947  PMID: 16581784
19.  Control of Sister Chromatid Recombination by Histone H2AX 
Molecular cell  2005;16(6):1017-1025.
Histone H2AX has a role in suppressing genomic instability and cancer. However, the mechanisms by which it performs these functions are poorly understood. After DNA breakage, H2AX is phosphorylated on serine 139 in chromatin near the break. We show here that H2AX serine 139 enforces efficient homologous recombinational repair of a chromosomal double-strand break (DSB) by using the sister chromatid as a template. BRCA1, Rad51, and CHK2 contribute to recombinational repair, in part independently of H2AX. H2AX−/− cells show increased use of single-strand annealing, an error-prone deletional mechanism of DSB repair. Therefore, the chromatin response around a chromosomal DSB, in which H2AX serine 139 phosphorylation plays a central role, “shapes” the repair process in favor of potentially error-free interchromatid homologous recombination at the expense of error-prone repair. H2AX phosphorylation may help set up a favorable disposition between sister chromatids.
PMCID: PMC2991138  PMID: 15610743
20.  Sequential Loading of Cohesin Subunits during the First Meiotic Prophase of Grasshoppers 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(2):e28.
The cohesin complexes play a key role in chromosome segregation during both mitosis and meiosis. They establish sister chromatid cohesion between duplicating DNA molecules during S-phase, but they also have an important role during postreplicative double-strand break repair in mitosis, as well as during recombination between homologous chromosomes in meiosis. An additional function in meiosis is related to the sister kinetochore cohesion, so they can be pulled by microtubules to the same pole at anaphase I. Data about the dynamics of cohesin subunits during meiosis are scarce; therefore, it is of great interest to characterize how the formation of the cohesin complexes is achieved in order to understand the roles of the different subunits within them. We have investigated the spatio-temporal distribution of three different cohesin subunits in prophase I grasshopper spermatocytes. We found that structural maintenance of chromosome protein 3 (SMC3) appears as early as preleptotene, and its localization resembles the location of the unsynapsed axial elements, whereas radiation-sensitive mutant 21 (RAD21) (sister chromatid cohesion protein 1, SCC1) and stromal antigen protein 1 (SA1) (sister chromatid cohesion protein 3, SCC3) are not visualized until zygotene, since they are located in the synapsed regions of the bivalents. During pachytene, the distribution of the three cohesin subunits is very similar and all appear along the trajectories of the lateral elements of the autosomal synaptonemal complexes. However, whereas SMC3 also appears over the single and unsynapsed X chromosome, RAD21 and SA1 do not. We conclude that the loading of SMC3 and the non-SMC subunits, RAD21 and SA1, occurs in different steps throughout prophase I grasshopper meiosis. These results strongly suggest the participation of SMC3 in the initial cohesin axis formation as early as preleptotene, thus contributing to sister chromatid cohesion, with a later association of both RAD21 and SA1 subunits at zygotene to reinforce and stabilize the bivalent structure. Therefore, we speculate that more than one cohesin complex participates in the sister chromatid cohesion at prophase I.
Author Summary
Meiosis is a specialized cell division by which sexually reproducing organisms prompt the formation of specialized cells presenting a half of the species chromosomal number. These cells, the so-called gametes, are able to fertilize or be fertilized, depending on the sex in which they are produced and thus restore the species chromosomal number after fertilization. The reduction in the chromosome number is achieved by two successive rounds of chromosome segregations preceded by a single replication of the genetic material. Different proteins, mainly referred to as cohesins, are implied in the correct establishment and maintenance of an intimate association between homologous chromosomes by ensuring their close association until their separation in the first meiotic division. Grasshoppers have been considered as a gorgeous model for meiotic studies for decades due to their low chromosomal number, the large size of their chromosomes, and the well-defined meiotic stages at cytological level. On these grounds, we have combined classical grasshopper chromosome knowledge with protein immunolocalization tools in order to precisely analyze the presence of cohesins throughout the prophase of the first meiotic division. The results not only describe the dynamic loading pattern of several cohesin subunits in two grasshopper species, but they also surprisingly bring into light that different cohesins are sequentially loaded onto meiotic chromosomes throughout the first meiotic prophase. Finally, we discuss the possible roles for this sequential protein loading in relation to the processes that operate during meiosis, proposing a model for meiotic chromosome structure. Besides the novel scientific contributions for a better understanding of the meiotic process, this study clearly points out that classical cytogenetic models can be used to solve modern biological problems.
PMCID: PMC1802827  PMID: 17319746
21.  Handcuff for sisters 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2009;8(3):399-402.
High fidelity chromosome transmission requires the pairing of sister chromatids by a group of conserved proteins called cohesins during S-phase. Sister chromatid cohesion is maintained until anaphase onset. Presently, there are two sets of models of cohesin complex popular in the cohesin biology field: one model predicts that single cohesin rings entrap both sister chromatids, and the other model proposes that cohesin complexes associate with each sister chromatid and become paired during DNA replication. It is the first model that currently predominate the field—in part because prior efforts failed to detect higher order cohesin-cohesin interactions. However, the static configuration and size limitation of the one ring embrace model are the major limitations of the embrace model, and cannot explain various functions of cohesin in DNA replication, DNA repair and gene expression. In a recent study published by Zhang et al. in the Journal of Cell Biology describes a two-ring handcuff model for the cohesin complex, and provides new information regarding how sister chromatid cohesion and separation are achieved in vertebrate cell systems.
PMCID: PMC2689371  PMID: 19177018
sister chromatid cohesion; handcuff model; cohesin; Smc1; Smc3; Rad21; Scc3; SA1; SA2
22.  The Multiple Roles of Cohesin in Meiotic Chromosome Morphogenesis and Pairing 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(3):1030-1047.
Sister chromatid cohesion, mediated by cohesin complexes, is laid down during DNA replication and is essential for the accurate segregation of chromosomes. Previous studies indicated that, in addition to their cohesion function, cohesins are essential for completion of recombination, pairing, meiotic chromosome axis formation, and assembly of the synaptonemal complex (SC). Using mutants in the cohesin subunit Rec8, in which phosphorylated residues were mutated to alanines, we show that cohesin phosphorylation is not only important for cohesin removal, but that cohesin's meiotic prophase functions are distinct from each other. We find pairing and SC formation to be dependent on Rec8, but independent of the presence of a sister chromatid and hence sister chromatid cohesion. We identified mutations in REC8 that differentially affect Rec8's cohesion, pairing, recombination, chromosome axis and SC assembly function. These findings define Rec8 as a key determinant of meiotic chromosome morphogenesis and a central player in multiple meiotic events.
PMCID: PMC2633386  PMID: 19073884
23.  Double-Strand Break Repair by Interchromosomal Recombination: An In Vivo Repair Mechanism Utilized by Multiple Somatic Tissues in Mammals 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84379.
Homologous recombination (HR) is essential for accurate genome duplication and maintenance of genome stability. In eukaryotes, chromosomal double strand breaks (DSBs) are central to HR during specialized developmental programs of meiosis and antigen receptor gene rearrangements, and form at unusual DNA structures and stalled replication forks. DSBs also result from exposure to ionizing radiation, reactive oxygen species, some anti-cancer agents, or inhibitors of topoisomerase II. Literature predicts that repair of such breaks normally will occur by non-homologous end-joining (in G1), intrachromosomal HR (all phases), or sister chromatid HR (in S/G2). However, no in vivo model is in place to directly determine the potential for DSB repair in somatic cells of mammals to occur by HR between repeated sequences on heterologs (i.e., interchromosomal HR). To test this, we developed a mouse model with three transgenes—two nonfunctional green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenes each containing a recognition site for the I-SceI endonuclease, and a tetracycline-inducible I-SceI endonuclease transgene. If interchromosomal HR can be utilized for DSB repair in somatic cells, then I-SceI expression and induction of DSBs within the GFP reporters may result in a functional GFP+ gene. Strikingly, GFP+ recombinant cells were observed in multiple organs with highest numbers in thymus, kidney, and lung. Additionally, bone marrow cultures demonstrated interchromosomal HR within multiple hematopoietic subpopulations including multi-lineage colony forming unit–granulocyte-erythrocyte-monocyte-megakaryocte (CFU-GEMM) colonies. This is a direct demonstration that somatic cells in vivo search genome-wide for homologous sequences suitable for DSB repair, and this type of repair can occur within early developmental populations capable of multi-lineage differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3862804  PMID: 24349572
24.  RSC Facilitates Rad59-Dependent Homologous Recombination between Sister Chromatids by Promoting Cohesin Loading at DNA Double-Strand Breaks ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(19):3924-3937.
Homologous recombination repairs DNA double-strand breaks by searching for, invading, and copying information from a homologous template, typically the homologous chromosome or sister chromatid. Tight wrapping of DNA around histone octamers, however, impedes access of repair proteins to DNA damage. To facilitate DNA repair, modifications of histones and energy-dependent remodeling of chromatin are required, but the precise mechanisms by which chromatin modification and remodeling enzymes contribute to homologous DNA repair are unknown. Here we have systematically assessed the role of budding yeast RSC (remodel structure of chromatin), an abundant, ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex, in the cellular response to spontaneous and induced DNA damage. RSC physically interacts with the recombination protein Rad59 and functions in homologous recombination. Multiple recombination assays revealed that RSC is uniquely required for recombination between sister chromatids by virtue of its ability to recruit cohesin at DNA breaks and thereby promoting sister chromatid cohesion. This study provides molecular insights into how chromatin remodeling contributes to DNA repair and maintenance of chromatin fidelity in the face of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC3187356  PMID: 21807899
25.  The Cohesion Protein SOLO Associates with SMC1 and Is Required for Synapsis, Recombination, Homolog Bias and Cohesion and Pairing of Centromeres in Drosophila Meiosis 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(7):e1003637.
Cohesion between sister chromatids is mediated by cohesin and is essential for proper meiotic segregation of both sister chromatids and homologs. solo encodes a Drosophila meiosis-specific cohesion protein with no apparent sequence homology to cohesins that is required in male meiosis for centromere cohesion, proper orientation of sister centromeres and centromere enrichment of the cohesin subunit SMC1. In this study, we show that solo is involved in multiple aspects of meiosis in female Drosophila. Null mutations in solo caused the following phenotypes: 1) high frequencies of homolog and sister chromatid nondisjunction (NDJ) and sharply reduced frequencies of homolog exchange; 2) reduced transmission of a ring-X chromosome, an indicator of elevated frequencies of sister chromatid exchange (SCE); 3) premature loss of centromere pairing and cohesion during prophase I, as indicated by elevated foci counts of the centromere protein CID; 4) instability of the lateral elements (LE)s and central regions of synaptonemal complexes (SCs), as indicated by fragmented and spotty staining of the chromosome core/LE component SMC1 and the transverse filament protein C(3)G, respectively, at all stages of pachytene. SOLO and SMC1 are both enriched on centromeres throughout prophase I, co-align along the lateral elements of SCs and reciprocally co-immunoprecipitate from ovarian protein extracts. Our studies demonstrate that SOLO is closely associated with meiotic cohesin and required both for enrichment of cohesin on centromeres and stable assembly of cohesin into chromosome cores. These events underlie and are required for stable cohesion of centromeres, synapsis of homologous chromosomes, and a recombination mechanism that suppresses SCE to preferentially generate homolog crossovers (homolog bias). We propose that SOLO is a subunit of a specialized meiotic cohesin complex that mediates both centromeric and axial arm cohesion and promotes homolog bias as a component of chromosome cores.
Author Summary
Sexual reproduction entails an intricate 2-step division called meiosis in which homologous chromosomes and sister chromatids are sequentially segregated to yield gametes (eggs and sperm) with exactly one copy of each chromosome. The Drosophila meiosis protein SOLO is essential for cohesion between sister chromatids. SOLO localizes to centromeres throughout meiosis where it collaborates with the conserved cohesin complex to enable sister centromeres to orient properly – to the same pole during the first division and to opposite poles during the second division. In solo mutants, sister chromatids become disconnected early in meiosis and segregate randomly through both meiotic divisions generating gametes with random (and mostly wrong) numbers of chromosomes. In this study we show that SOLO also localizes to chromosome arms where it is required to construct stable synaptonemal complexes that connect homologs while they recombine. In addition, SOLO is required to prevent crossovers between sister chromatids, as only homolog crossovers are useful for forming the interhomolog connections (chiasmata) needed for homolog segregation. SOLO collaborates with cohesin for these tasks as well. We propose that SOLO is a subunit of a specialized meiotic cohesin complex and a multi-purpose cohesion protein that regulates several meiotic processes needed for proper chromosome segregation.
PMCID: PMC3715423  PMID: 23874232

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