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Dev Genet. 1992;13(6):485-97.

Pulsed-field gel analysis of the pattern of DNA double-strand breaks in the Saccharomyces genome during meiosis.

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Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California.


Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) has been used to study the timing, frequency, and distribution of double-strand breaks (DSBs) in chromosomal-sized DNA during meiosis in yeast. It has previously been shown that DSBs are associated with some genetic hotspots during recombination, and it is important to know whether meiotic recombination events routinely initiate via DSBs. Two strains have been studied here--a high-sporulating homothallic wild type and a congenic mutant strain carrying a rad50S mutation. This mutant has previously been reported to accumulate broken molecules in meiosis to much higher frequencies than wild type and to abolish the characteristic wild-type processing of DNA that has been observed at the break sites. When whole chromosomes are resolved by PFGE, both strains show some broken molecules starting at the time that cells commit to genetic recombination. Breakage has been assessed primarily on Chromosome III and Chr. XV, using Southern hybridization to identify these chromosomes and their fragments. At any one time, break frequency in wild type is much lower than the cumulative frequency of recombination events that occur during meiosis. However, there is suggestive evidence that each break is short-lived, and it is therefore difficult to estimate the total number of breaks that may occur. In rad50S, chromosome breaks accumulate to much higher levels, which are probably broadly consistent with the estimated number of recombination events in wild type. However, since rad50S is substantially defective in completing recombination, it is not known for certain if it initiates events at wild-type frequencies. A surprising feature of the data is that a strong banding pattern is observed in the fragment distribution from broken chromosomes in both strains, implying that at least much of the breakage occurs at specific sites or within short regions. However, with the exception of the rDNA region on Chr. XII, assessment of the genetic map indicates that recombination can occur almost anywhere in the genome, although some regions are much hotter than others. Possible reasons for this apparent paradox are discussed. It may in part result from breakage levels too low for adequate detection in cold regions but may also imply that recombination events are localized more than previously realized. Alternatively, there may be a more indirect relationship between break sites and the associated recombination events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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