Structural conservation in the ATPase centers of RadA, Rad51 and RecA recombinases suggests conformational switching between high and low-affinity states for DNA in concert with cycles ATP hydrolysis. Such iteration would be advantageous for DNA strand exchange by optimizing the pairing between single-stranded and double-stranded DNA substrates.
Archaeal RadAs are close homologues of eukaryal Rad51s (∼40% sequence identity). These recombinases promote ATP hydrolysis and a hallmark strand-exchange reaction between homologous single-stranded and double-stranded DNA substrates. Pairing of the 3′-overhangs located at the damaged DNA with a homologous double-stranded DNA enables the re-synthesis of the damaged region using the homologous DNA as the template. In recent studies, conformational changes in the DNA-interacting regions of Methanococcus voltae RadA have been correlated with the presence of activity-stimulating potassium or calcium ions in the ATPase centre. The series of crystal structures of M. maripaludis RadA presented here further suggest the conservation of an allosteric switch in the ATPase centre which controls the conformational status of DNA-interacting loops. Structural comparison with the distant Escherichia coli RecA homologue supports the notion that the conserved Lys248 and Lys250 residues in RecA play a role similar to that of cations in RadA. The conservation of a cationic bridge between the DNA-interacting L2 region and the terminal phosphate of ATP, together with the apparent stability of the nucleoprotein filament, suggests a gap-displacement model which may explain the advantage of ATP hydrolysis for DNA-strand exchange.
RadA; Rad51; RecA; recombinases; homologous recombination; DNA strand exchange; ATPases
RecA family proteins, including bacterial RecA, archaeal RadA, and eukaryotic Dmc1 and Rad51, mediate homologous recombination, a reaction essential for maintaining genome integrity. In the presence of ATP, these proteins bind a single-strand DNA to form a right-handed nucleoprotein filament, which catalyzes pairing and strand exchange with a homologous double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), by as-yet unknown mechanisms. We recently reported a structure of RadA left-handed helical filament, and here present three new structures of RadA left-handed helical filaments. Comparative structural analysis between different RadA/Rad51 helical filaments reveals that the N-terminal domain (NTD) of RadA/Rad51, implicated in dsDNA binding, is highly flexible. We identify a hinge region between NTD and polymerization motif as responsible for rigid body movement of NTD. Mutant analysis further confirms that structural flexibility of NTD is essential for RadA's recombinase activity. These results support our previous hypothesis that ATP-dependent axial rotation of RadA nucleoprotein helical filament promotes homologous recombination.
Proteins that catalyse homologous recombination have been identified in all living organisms and are essential for the repair of damaged DNA as well as for the generation of genetic diversity. In bacteria homologous recombination is performed by the RecA protein, whereas in the eukarya a related protein called Rad51 is required to catalyse recombination and repair. More recently, archaeal homologues of RecA/Rad51 (RadA) have been identified and isolated. In this work we have cloned and purified the RadA protein from the hyperthermophilic, sulphate-reducing archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus and characterised its in vitro activities. We show that (i) RadA protein forms ring structures in solution and binds single- but not double-stranded DNA to form nucleoprotein filaments, (ii) RadA is a single-stranded DNA-dependent ATPase at elevated temperatures, and (iii) RadA catalyses efficient D-loop formation and strand exchange at temperatures of 60–70°C. Finally, we have used electron microscopy to visualise RadA-mediated joint molecules, the intermediates of homologous recombination. Intriguingly, RadA shares properties of both the bacterial RecA and eukaryotic Rad51 recombinases.
Homologous recombinational repair is an essential mechanism for repair of double-strand breaks in DNA. Recombinases of the RecA-fold family play a crucial role in this process, forming filaments that utilize ATP to mediate their interactions with single- and double-stranded DNA. The recombinase molecules present in the archaea (RadA) and eukaryota (Rad51) are more closely related to each other than to their bacterial counterpart (RecA) and, as a result, RadA makes a suitable model for the eukaryotic system. The crystal structure of Sulfolobus solfataricus RadA has been solved to a resolution of 3.2 Å in the absence of nucleotide analogues or DNA, revealing a narrow filamentous assembly with three molecules per helical turn. As observed in other RecA-family recombinases, each RadA molecule in the filament is linked to its neighbour via interactions of a short β-strand with the neighbouring ATPase domain. However, despite apparent flexibility between domains, comparison with other structures indicates conservation of a number of key interactions that introduce rigidity to the system, allowing allosteric control of the filament by interaction with ATP. Additional analysis reveals that the interaction specificity of the five human Rad51 paralogues can be predicted using a simple model based on the RadA structure.
DNA recombinases (RecA in bacteria, Rad51 in eukarya and RadA in archaea) catalyse strand-exchange between homologous DNA molecules, the central reaction of homologous recombination, and are among the most conserved DNA repair proteins known. In bacteria, RecA is the sole protein responsible for this reaction, whereas, in eukaryotes, there are several RAD51 paralogs that cooperate to catalyse strand exchange. All archaea have at least one (and as many as four) RadA paralogs, but their function remains unclear. Here we show the three RadA paralogs encoded by the Sulfolobus solfataricus genome are expressed under normal growth conditions, and are not UV-inducible. We demonstrate that one of these proteins, Sso2452, which is representative of the large aRadC sub-family of archaeal RadA paralogs, functions as an ATPase that binds tightly to ssDNA. However, Sso2452 is not an active recombinase in vitro, and inhibits D-loop formation by RadA. We present the high-resolution crystal structure of Sso2452, which reveals key structural differences from the canonical RecA family recombinases that may explain its functional properties. The possible roles of the archaeal RadA paralogs in vivo are discussed.
Archaea; Recombinase; RadA; Homologous Recombination; Strand Exchange
Archaea-specific radA primers were used with PCR to amplify fragments of radA genes from 11 cultivated archaeal species and one marine sponge tissue sample that contained essentially an archaeal monoculture. The amino acid sequences encoded by the PCR fragments, three RadA protein sequences previously published (21), and two new complete RadA sequences were aligned with representative bacterial RecA proteins and eucaryal Rad51 and Dmc1 proteins. The alignment supported the existence of four insertions and one deletion in the archaeal and eucaryal sequences relative to the bacterial sequences. The sizes of three of the insertions were found to have taxonomic and phylogenetic significance. Comparative analysis of the RadA sequences, omitting amino acids in the insertions and deletions, shows a cladal distribution of species which mimics to a large extent that obtained by a similar analysis of archaeal 16S rRNA sequences. The PCR technique also was used to amplify fragments of 15 radA genes from uncultured natural sources. Phylogenetic analysis of the amino acid sequences encoded by these fragments reveals several clades with affinity, sometimes only distant, to the putative RadA proteins of several species of Crenarcheota. The two most deeply branching archaeal radA genes found had some amino acid deletion and insertion patterns characteristic of bacterial recA genes. Possible explanations are discussed. Finally, signature codons are presented to distinguish among RecA protein family members.
Proteins in the RecA/Rad51/RadA family form nucleoprotein filaments on DNA that catalyze a strand exchange reaction as part of homologous genetic recombination. Because of the centrality of this system to many aspects of DNA repair, the generation of genetic diversity, and cancer when this system fails or is not properly regulated, these filaments have been the object of many biochemical and biophysical studies. A recent paper has argued that the human Dmc1 protein, a meiotic homolog of bacterial RecA and human Rad51, forms filaments on single stranded DNA with ∼ 9 subunits per turn in contrast to the filaments formed on double stranded DNA with ∼ 6.4 subunits per turn, and that the stoichiometry of DNA binding is different between these two filaments. We show using scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) that the Dmc1 filament formed on single stranded DNA has a mass per unit length expected from ∼ 6.5 subunits per turn. More generally, we show how ambiguities in helical symmetry determination can generate incorrect solutions, and why one sometimes must use other techniques, such as biochemistry, metal shadowing, or STEM to resolve these ambiguities. While three-dimensional reconstruction of helical filaments from EM images is a powerful tool, the intrinsic ambiguities that may be present with limited resolution are not sufficiently appreciated.
RadA/Sms is a highly conserved eubacterial protein that shares sequence similarity with both RecA strand transferase and Lon protease. We examined mutations in the radA/sms gene of Escherichia coli for effects on conjugational recombination and sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, including UV irradiation, methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), mitomycin C, phleomycin, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyurea (HU). Null mutants of radA were modestly sensitive to the DNA-methylating agent MMS and to the DNA strand breakage agent phleomycin, with conjugational recombination decreased two- to threefold. We combined a radA mutation with other mutations in recombination genes, including recA, recB, recG, recJ, recQ, ruvA, and ruvC. A radA mutation was strongly synergistic with the recG Holliday junction helicase mutation, producing profound sensitivity to all DNA-damaging agents tested. Lesser synergy was noted between a mutation in radA and recJ, recQ, ruvA, ruvC, and recA for sensitivity to various genotoxins. For survival after peroxide and HU exposure, a radA mutation surprisingly suppressed the sensitivity of recA and recB mutants, suggesting that RadA may convert some forms of damage into lethal intermediates in the absence of these functions. Loss of radA enhanced the conjugational recombination deficiency conferred by mutations in Holliday junction-processing function genes, recG, ruvA, and ruvC. A radA recG ruv triple mutant had severe recombinational defects, to the low level exhibited by recA mutants. These results establish a role for RadA/Sms in recombination and recombinational repair, most likely involving the stabilization or processing of branched DNA molecules or blocked replication forks because of its genetic redundancy with RecG and RuvABC.
The radA gene predicted to be responsible for homologous recombination in a hyperthermophilic archaeon, Desulfurococcus amylolyticus, was cloned, sequenced, and overexpressed in Escherichia coli cells. The deduced amino acid sequence of the gene product, RadA, was more similar to the human Rad51 protein (65% homology) than to the E. coli RecA protein (35%). A highly purified RadA protein was shown to exclusively catalyze single-stranded DNA-dependent ATP hydrolysis, which monitored presynaptic recombinational complex formation, at temperatures above 65°C (catalytic rate constant of 1.2 to 2.5 min−1 at 80 to 95°C). The RadA protein alone efficiently promoted the strand exchange reaction at the range of temperatures from 80 to 90°C, i.e., at temperatures approaching the melting point of DNA. It is noteworthy that both ATP hydrolysis and strand exchange are very efficient at temperatures optimal for host cell growth (90 to 92°C).
All RecA-like recombinase enzymes catalyze DNA strand exchange as elongated filaments on DNA. Despite numerous biochemical and structural studies of RecA and the related Rad51 and RadA proteins, the unit oligomer(s) responsible for nucleoprotein filament assembly and coordinated filament activity remains undefined. We have created a RecA fused dimer protein and show that it maintains in vivo DNA repair and LexA co-protease activities, as well as in vitro ATPase and DNA strand exchange activities. Our results support the idea that dimeric RecA is an important functional unit both for assembly of nucleoprotein filaments as well as their coordinated activity during the catalysis of homologous recombination.
Rad51 is the central catalyst of homologous recombination in eukaryotes and is thus critical for maintaining genomic integrity. Recent crystal structures of filaments formed by Rad51 and the closely related archeal RadA and eubacterial RecA proteins place the ATPase site at the protomeric interface. To test the relevance of this feature, we mutated conserved residues at this interface and examined their effects on key activities of Rad51: ssDNA-stimulated ATP hydrolysis, DNA binding, polymerization on DNA substrates and catalysis of strand-exchange reactions. Our results show that the interface seen in the crystal structures is very important for nucleoprotein filament formation. H352 and R357 of yeast Rad51 are essential for assembling the catalytically competent form of the enzyme on DNA substrates and coordinating its activities. However, contrary to some previous suggestions, neither of these residues is critical for ATP hydrolysis.
The RecA family of proteins mediates homologous recombination, an evolutionarily conserved pathway that maintains genomic stability by protecting against DNA double strand breaks. RecA proteins are thought to facilitate DNA strand exchange reactions as closed-rings or as right-handed helical filaments. Here, we report the crystal structure of a left-handed Sulfolobus solfataricus RadA helical filament. Each protomer in this left-handed filament is linked to its neighbour via interactions of a β-strand polymerization motif with the neighbouring ATPase domain. Immediately following the polymerization motif, we identified an evolutionarily conserved hinge region (a subunit rotation motif) in which a 360° clockwise axial rotation accompanies stepwise structural transitions from a closed ring to the AMP–PNP right-handed filament, then to an overwound right-handed filament and finally to the left-handed filament. Additional structural and functional analyses of wild-type and mutant proteins confirmed that the subunit rotation motif is crucial for enzymatic functions of RecA family proteins. These observations support the hypothesis that RecA family protein filaments may function as rotary motors.
The Rad51 protein from the methylotrophic yeast Pichia angusta (Rad51Pa) of the taxonomic complex Hansenula polymorpha is a homolog of the RecA-RadA-Rad51 protein superfamily, which promotes homologous recombination and recombination repair in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. We cloned the RAD51 gene from the cDNA library of the thermotolerant P. angusta strain BKM Y1397. Induction of this gene in a rad51-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain partially complemented the survival rate after ionizing radiation. Purified Rad51Pa protein exhibited properties typical of the superfamily, including the stoichiometry of binding to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (one protomer of Rad51Pa per 3 nucleotides) and DNA specificity for ssDNA-dependent ATP hydrolysis [poly(dC) > poly(dT) > φX174 ssDNA > poly(dA) > double-stranded M13 DNA]. An inefficient ATPase and very low cooperativity for ATP interaction position Rad51Pa closer to Rad51 than to RecA. Judging by thermoinactivation, Rad51Pa alone was 20-fold more thermostable at 37°C than its S. cerevisiae homolog (Rad51Sc). Moreover, it maintained ssDNA-dependent ATPase and DNA transferase activities up to 52 to 54°C, whereas Rad51Sc was completely inactive at 47°C. A quick nucleation and an efficient final-product formation in the strand exchange reaction promoted by Rad51Pa occurred only at temperatures above 42°C. These reaction characteristics suggest that Rad51Pa is dependent on high temperatures for activity.
Homologous recombination is a high-fidelity DNA repair pathway. Besides a critical role in accurate chromosome segregation during meiosis, recombination functions in DNA repair and in the recovery of stalled or broken replication forks to ensure genomic stability. In contrast, inappropriate recombination contributes to genomic instability, leading to loss of heterozygosity, chromosome rearrangements, and cell death. The RecA/UvsX/RadA/Rad51 family of proteins catalyzes the signature reactions of recombination, homology search and DNA strand invasion 1,2. Eukaryotes also possess Rad51 paralogs, whose exact role in recombination remains to be defined 3. Here we show that the budding yeast Rad51 paralogs, the Rad55-Rad57 heterodimer, counteract the anti-recombination activity of the Srs2 helicase. Rad55-Rad57 associate with the Rad51-ssDNA filament, rendering it more stable than a nucleoprotein filament containing Rad51 alone. The Rad51/Rad55-Rad57 co-filament resists disruption by the Srs2 anti-recombinase by blocking Srs2 translocation involving a direct protein interaction between Rad55-Rad57 and Srs2. Our results demonstrate an unexpected role of the Rad51 paralogs in stabilizing the Rad51 filament against a biologically important antagonist, the Srs2 anti-recombination helicase. The biological significance of this mechanism is indicated by a complete suppression of the ionizing radiation sensitivity of rad55 or rad57 mutants by concomitant deletion of SRS2, as expected for biological antagonists. We propose that the Rad51 presynaptic filament is a meta-stable reversible intermediate, whose assembly and disassembly is governed by the balance between Rad55-Rad57 and Srs2, providing a key regulatory mechanism controlling the initiation of homologous recombination. These data provide a paradigm for the potential function of the human RAD51 paralogs, which are known to be involved in cancer predisposition and human disease.
Rad51 proteins share both structural and functional homologies with the bacterial recombinase RecA. The human Rad51 (HsRad51) is able to catalyse strand exchange between homologous DNA molecules in vitro . However the biological functions of Rad51 in mammals are largely unknown. In order to address this question, we have cloned hamster Rad51 cDNA and overexpressed the corresponding protein in CHO cells. We found that 2-3-fold overexpression of the protein stimulated the homologous recombination between integrated genes by 20-fold indicating that Rad51 is a functional and key enzyme of an intrachromosomal recombination pathway. Cells overexpressing Rad51 were resistant to ionizing radiation when irradiated in late S/G2phase of the cell cycle. This suggests that Rad51 participate in the repair of double-strand breaks most likely by homologous recombination involving sister chromatids formed after the S phase.
The process of homologous recombination has been documented in bacterial and eucaryotic organisms. The Escherichia coli RecA and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad51 proteins are the archetypal members of two related families of proteins that play a central role in this process. Using the PCR process primed by degenerate oligonucleotides designed to encode regions of the proteins showing the greatest degree of identity, we examined DNA from three organisms of a third phylogenetically divergent group, Archaea, for sequences encoding proteins similar to RecA and Rad51. The archaeans examined were a hyperthermophilic acidophile, Sulfolobus sofataricus (Sso); a halophile, Haloferax volcanii (Hvo); and a hyperthermophilic piezophilic methanogen, Methanococcus jannaschii (Mja). The PCR generated DNA was used to clone a larger genomic DNA fragment containing an open reading frame (orf), that we refer to as the radA gene, for each of the three archaeans. As shown by amino acid sequence alignments, percent amino acid identities and phylogenetic analysis, the putative proteins encoded by all three are related to each other and to both the RecA and Rad51 families of proteins. The putative RadA proteins are more similar to the Rad51 family (approximately 40% identity at the amino acid level) than to the RecA family (approximately 20%). Conserved sequence motifs, putative tertiary structures and phylogenetic analysis implied by the alignment are discussed. The 5' ends of mRNA transcripts to the Sso radA were mapped. The levels of radA mRNA do not increase after treatment with UV irradiation as do recA and RAD51 transcripts in E.coli and S.cerevisiae. Hence it is likely that radA in this organism is a constitutively expressed gene and we discuss possible implications of the lack of UV-inducibility.
Homologous recombination is important for the repair of double-strand breaks during meiosis. Eukaryotic cells require two homologs of Escherichia coli RecA protein, Rad51 and Dmc1, for meiotic recombination. To date, it is not clear, at the biochemical level, why two homologs of RecA are necessary during meiosis. To gain insight into this, we purified Schizosaccharomyces pombe Rad51 and Dmc1 to homogeneity. Purified Rad51 and Dmc1 form homo-oligomers, bind single-stranded DNA preferentially, and exhibit DNA-stimulated ATPase activity. Both Rad51 and Dmc1 promote the renaturation of complementary single-stranded DNA. Importantly, Rad51 and Dmc1 proteins catalyze ATP-dependent strand exchange reactions with homologous duplex DNA. Electron microscopy reveals that both S. pombe Rad51 and Dmc1 form nucleoprotein filaments. Rad51 formed helical nucleoprotein filaments on single-stranded DNA, whereas Dmc1 was found in two forms, as helical filaments and also as stacked rings. These results demonstrate that Rad51 and Dmc1 are both efficient recombinases in lower eukaryotes and reveal closer functional and structural similarities between the meiotic recombinase Dmc1 and Rad51. The DNA strand exchange activity of both Rad51 and Dmc1 is most likely critical for proper meiotic DNA double-strand break repair in lower eukaryotes.
RecA family proteins engage in an ATP-dependent DNA strand exchange reaction that includes a ssDNA nucleoprotein helical filament and a homologous dsDNA sequence. In spite of more than 20 years of efforts, the molecular mechanism of homology pairing and strand exchange is still not fully understood. Here we report a crystal structure of Sulfolobus solfataricus RadA overwound right-handed filament with three monomers per helical pitch. This structure reveals conformational details of the first ssDNA binding disordered loop (denoted L1 motif) and the dsDNA binding N-terminal domain (NTD). L1 and NTD together form an outwardly open palm structure on the outer surface of the helical filament. Inside this palm structure, five conserved basic amino acid residues (K27, K60, R117, R223 and R229) surround a 25 Å pocket that is wide enough to accommodate anionic ssDNA, dsDNA or both. Biochemical analyses demonstrate that these five positively charged residues are essential for DNA binding and for RadA-catalyzed D-loop formation. We suggest that the overwound right-handed RadA filament represents a functional conformation in the homology search and pairing reaction. A new structural model is proposed for the homologous interactions between a RadA-ssDNA nucleoprotein filament and its dsDNA target.
The Desulfurococcus amylolyticus RadA protein (RadADa) promotes recombination at temperatures approaching the DNA melting point. Here, analyzing ATPase of the RadADa presynaptic complex, we described other distinguishing characteristics of RadADa. These include sensitivity to NaCl, preference for lengthy single-stranded DNA as a cofactor, protein activity at temperatures of over 100°C, and bimodal ATPase activity. These characteristics suggest that RadADa is a founding member of a new class of archaeal recombinases.
Genetic recombination and the repair of double-strand DNA breaks in Saccharomyces cerevisiae require Rad51, a homologue of the Escherichia coli RecA protein. In vitro, Rad51 binds DNA to form an extended nucleoprotein filament and catalyzes the ATP-dependent exchange of DNA between molecules with homologous sequences. Vertebrate Rad51 is essential for cell proliferation. Using site-directed mutagenesis of highly conserved residues of human Rad51 (hRad51) and gene targeting of the RAD51 locus in chicken DT40 cells, we examined the importance of Rad51’s highly conserved ATP-binding domain. Mutant hRad51 incapable of ATP hydrolysis (hRad51K-133R) binds DNA less efficiently than the wild type but catalyzes strand exchange between homologous DNAs. hRad51 does not need to hydrolyze ATP to allow vertebrate cell proliferation, form nuclear foci, or repair radiation-induced DNA damage. However, cells expressing hRad51K-133R show greatly reduced targeted integration frequencies. These findings show that ATP hydrolysis is involved in DNA binding by hRad51 and suggest that the extent of DNA complexed with hRad51 in nucleoprotein influences the efficiency of recombination.
Very little is known about the role of DNA repair networks in Brucella abortus and its role in pathogenesis. We investigated the roles of RecA protein, DNA repair, and SOS regulation in B. abortus. While recA mutants in most bacterial species are hypersensitive to UV damage, surprisingly a B. abortus recA null mutant conferred only modest sensitivity. We considered the presence of a second RecA protein to account for this modest UV sensitivity. Analyses of the Brucella spp. genomes and our molecular studies documented the presence of only one recA gene, suggesting a RecA-independent repair process. Searches of the available Brucella genomes revealed some homology between RecA and RadA, a protein implicated in E. coli DNA repair. We considered the possibility that B. abortus RadA might be compensating for the loss of RecA by promoting similar repair activities. We present functional analyses that demonstrated that B. abortus RadA complements a radA defect in E. coli but could not act in place of the B. abortus RecA. We show that RecA but not RadA was required for survival in macrophages. We also discovered that recA was expressed at high constitutive levels, due to constitutive LexA cleavage by RecA, with little induction following DNA damage. Higher basal levels of RecA and its SOS-regulated gene products might protect against DNA damage experienced following the oxidative burst within macrophages.
Purified DNA translocases Rdh54 and Rad54 can dissociate complexes formed by eukaryotic RecA-like recombinases on double-stranded DNA. Here we show Rad51 complexes are dissociated by these translocases in mitotic cells. Rad51 overexpression blocked growth of cells deficient in Rdh54 activity. This toxicity was associated with accumulation of Rad51 foci on undamaged chromatin. At normal Rad51 levels, rdh54 deficiency resulted in slight elevation of Rad51 foci. A triple mutant lacking Rdh54, Rad54, and a third Swi2/Snf2 homologue Uls1, accumulated Rad51 foci, grew slowly, and suffered chromosome loss. Thus, Uls1 and Rad54 can partially substitute for Rdh54 in the removal of toxic, non–damage-associated Rad51-DNA complexes. Additional data suggest that the function of Rdh54 and Rad54 in removal of Rad51 foci is significantly specialized; Rad54 predominates for removal of damage-associated foci and Rdh54 predominates for removal of non-damage-associated foci.
The human Rad51 protein requires ATP for the catalysis of DNA strand exchange, as do all Rad51 and RecA-like recombinases. However, understanding the specific mechanistic requirements for ATP binding and hydrolysis has been complicated by the fact that ATP appears to have distinctly different effects on the functional properties of human Rad51 versus yeast Rad51 and bacterial RecA. Here we use RNAi methods to test the function of two ATP binding site mutants, K133R and K133A, in human cells. Unexpectedly, we find that the K133A mutant is functional for repair of DNA double-strand breaks when endogenous Rad51 is depleted. We also find that the K133A protein maintains wild-type-like DNA binding activity and interactions with Brca2 and Xrcc3, properties that undoubtedly promote its DNA repair capability in the cell-based assay used here. Although a Lys to Ala substitution in the Walker A motif is commonly assumed to prevent ATP binding, we show that the K133A protein binds ATP, but with an affinity approximately 100-fold lower than that of wild-type Rad51. Our data suggest that ATP binding and release without hydrolysis by the K133A protein act as a mechanistic surrogate in a catalytic process that applies to all RecA-like recombinases. ATP binding promotes assembly and stabilization of a catalytically active nucleoprotein filament, while ATP hydrolysis promotes filament disassembly and release from DNA.
The eukaryotic RecA homologs Rad51 and Dmc1 are essential for strand exchange between homologous chromosomes during meiosis. All members of the RecA family of recombinases polymerize on DNA to form helical nucleoprotein filaments, which is the active form of the protein. Here we compare the filament structures of the Rad51 and Dmc1 proteins from both human and budding yeast. Previous studies of Dmc1 filaments suggested that they might be structurally distinct from filaments of other members of the RecA family, including Rad51. The data presented here indicate that Rad51 and Dmc1 filaments are essentially identical with respect to several structural parameters, including persistence length, helical pitch, filament diameter, DNA base pairs per helical turn and helical handedness. These data, together with previous studies demonstrating similar in vitro recombinase activity for Dmc1 and Rad51, support the view that differences in the meiotic function of Rad51 and Dmc1 are more likely to result from the influence of distinct sets of accessory proteins than from intrinsic differences in filament structure.
In prokaryotes the genome is organized in a dynamic structure called the nucleoid, which is embedded in the cytoplasm. We show here that in the archaeon Haloferax volcanii, compaction and reorganization of the nucleoid is induced by stresses that damage the genome or interfere with its replication. The fraction of cells exhibiting nucleoid compaction was proportional to the dose of the DNA damaging agent, and results obtained in cells defective for nucleotide excision repair suggest that breakage of DNA strands triggers reorganization of the nucleoid. We observed that compaction depends on the Mre11-Rad50 complex, suggesting a link to DNA double-strand break repair. However, compaction was observed in a radA mutant, indicating that the role of Mre11-Rad50 in nucleoid reorganisation is independent of homologous recombination. We therefore propose that nucleoid compaction is part of a DNA damage response that accelerates cell recovery by helping DNA repair proteins to locate their targets, and facilitating the search for intact DNA sequences during homologous recombination.