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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Jan 20;95(2):646-51.

Mutations in the MRE11, RAD50, XRS2, and MRE2 genes alter chromatin configuration at meiotic DNA double-stranded break sites in premeiotic and meiotic cells.

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  • 1Cellular and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Saitama, Japan.


In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, meiotic recombination is initiated by DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) occurring in micrococcal nuclease (MNase)-hypersensitive regions of the chromatin. MNase-sensitive sites also undergo meiosis-specific alterations in chromatin structure prior to the appearance of DSBs. DSB formation requires the products of numerous genes. Herein we have examined the effects of mutations in four such genes, MRE11, RAD50, XRS2, and MRE2, on MNase sensitivity at DSB sites in premeiotic and meiotic cells. Disruption mutations in each of four genes confer greater than wild-type levels of MNase sensitivity in premeiotic cells. In meiotic prophase, all of these mutations affect MNase sensitivity at DSB sites and fall into two distinct phenotypic classes. The type 1 mutations (mre2 and mre11) confer a reduction in MNase sensitivity relative to the wild-type level. The type 2 mutations (rad50 and xrs2) permit a meiotic increase in the MNase sensitivity to reach a final level higher than that observed in wild-type cells. An mre11 disruption mutation (type 1) is epistatic to a rad50 null mutation (type 2) with respect to its meiotic effects on MNase sensitivity, suggesting that the events observed in the type 2 mutants during meiosis are dependent upon type 1 functions. One interpretation of these results is that Mre11, Rad50, Xrs2, and possibly Mer2 (whose splicing is Mre2-dependent) form a complex at recombination hot spots and establish a chromatin/DNA configuration favorable for the induction of DSBs.

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