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Plant J. 2006 Oct;48(2):206-16.

Arabidopsis SPO11-2 functions with SPO11-1 in meiotic recombination.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK.


The Spo11 protein is a eukaryotic homologue of the archaeal DNA topoisomerase VIA subunit (topo VIA). In archaea it is involved, together with its B subunit (topo VIB), in DNA replication. However, most eukaryotes, including yeasts, insects and vertebrates, instead have a single gene for Spo11/topo VIA and no homologues for topo VIB. In these organisms, Spo11 mediates DNA double-strand breaks that initiate meiotic recombination. Many plant species, in contrast to other eukaryotes, have three homologues for Spo11/topo VIA and one for topo VIB. The homologues in Arabidopsis, AtSPO11-1, AtSPO11-2 and AtSPO11-3, all share 20-30% sequence similarity with other Spo11/topo VIA proteins, but their functional relationship during meiosis or other processes is not well understood. Previous genetic evidence suggests that AtSPO11-1 is a true orthologue of Spo11 in other eukaryotes and is required for meiotic recombination, whereas AtSPO11-3 is involved in DNA endo-reduplication as a part of the topo VI complex. In this study, we show that plants homozygous for atspo11-2 exhibit a severe sterility phenotype. Both male and female meiosis are severely disrupted in the atspo11-2 mutant, and this is associated with severe defects in synapsis during the first meiotic division and reduced meiotic recombination. Further genetic analysis revealed that AtSPO11-1 and AtSPO11-2 genetically interact, i.e. plants heterozygous for both atspo11-1 and atspo11-2 are also sterile, suggesting that AtSPO11-1 and AtSPO11-2 have largely overlapping functions. Thus, the three Arabidopsis Spo11 homologues appear to function in two discrete processes, i.e. AtSPO11-1 and AtSPO11-2 in meiotic recombination and AtSPO11-3 in DNA replication.

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