Background: The Swi5-Sfr1 protein complex is an activator of Rad51 recombinase, which mediates DNA strand exchange in homologous recombination.
Results: Swi5 and Sfr1 form a 1:1 complex, which exhibits an extremely elongated dogleg-shaped structure in solution.
Conclusion: The Swi5-Sfr1 structure is suitable for binding within the helical groove of the Rad51 filament.
Significance: A structural model will advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism of homologous recombination.
In eukaryotes, DNA strand exchange is the central reaction of homologous recombination, which is promoted by Rad51 recombinases forming a right-handed nucleoprotein filament on single-stranded DNA, also known as a presynaptic filament. Accessory proteins known as recombination mediators are required for the formation of the active presynaptic filament. One such mediator in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is the Swi5-Sfr1 complex, which has been identified as an activator of Rad51 that assists in presynaptic filament formation and stimulates its strand exchange reaction. Here, we determined the 1:1 binding stoichiometry between the two subunits of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex using analytical ultracentrifugation and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Small-angle x-ray scattering experiments revealed that the Swi5-Sfr1 complex displays an extremely elongated dogleg-shaped structure in solution, which is consistent with its exceptionally high frictional ratio (f/f0) of 2.0 ± 0.2 obtained by analytical ultracentrifugation. Furthermore, we determined a rough topology of the complex by comparing the small-angle x-ray scattering-based structures of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex and four Swi5-Sfr1-Fab complexes, in which the Fab fragments of monoclonal antibodies were specifically bound to experimentally determined sites of Sfr1. We propose a model for how the Swi5-Sfr1 complex binds to the Rad51 filament, in which the Swi5-Sfr1 complex fits into the groove of the Rad51 filament, leading to an active and stable presynaptic filament.