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Cell. 2004 Aug 20;118(4):439-52.

C. elegans HIM-17 links chromatin modification and competence for initiation of meiotic recombination.

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Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Initiation of meiotic recombination by double-strand breaks (DSBs) must occur in a controlled fashion to avoid jeopardizing genome integrity. Here, we identify chromatin-associated protein HIM-17 as a link between chromatin state and DSB formation during C. elegans meiosis. Dependencies of several meiotic prophase events on HIM-17 parallel those seen for DSB-generating enzyme SPO-11: HIM-17 is essential for DSB formation but dispensable for homolog synapsis. Crossovers and chiasmata are eliminated in him-17 null mutants but are restored by artificially induced DSBs, indicating that all components required to convert DSBs into chiasmata are present. Unlike SPO-11, HIM-17 is also required for proper accumulation of histone H3 methylation at lysine 9 on meiotic prophase chromosomes. HIM-17 shares structural features with three proteins that interact genetically with LIN-35/Rb, a known component of chromatin-modifying complexes. Furthermore, DSB levels and incidence of chiasmata can be modulated by loss of LIN-35/Rb. These and other data suggest that chromatin state governs the timing of DSB competence.

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