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PLoS One. 2008 Aug 6;3(8):e2887. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002887.

Meiotic recombination hotspots of fission yeast are directed to loci that express non-coding RNA.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, United States of America.



Polyadenylated, mRNA-like transcripts with no coding potential are abundant in eukaryotes, but the functions of these long non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are enigmatic. In meiosis, Rec12 (Spo11) catalyzes the formation of dsDNA breaks (DSBs) that initiate homologous recombination. Most meiotic recombination is positioned at hotspots, but knowledge of the mechanisms is nebulous. In the fission yeast genome DSBs are located within 194 prominent peaks separated on average by 65-kbp intervals of DNA that are largely free of DSBs.


We compared the genome-wide distribution of DSB peaks to that of polyadenylated ncRNA molecules of the prl class. DSB peaks map to ncRNA loci that may be situated within ORFs, near the boundaries of ORFs and intergenic regions, or most often within intergenic regions. Unconditional statistical tests revealed that this colocalization is non-random and robust (P<or=5.5 x 10(-8)). Furthermore, we tested and rejected the hypothesis that the ncRNA loci and DSB peaks localize preferentially, but independently, to a third entity on the chromosomes.


Meiotic DSB hotspots are directed to loci that express polyadenylated ncRNAs. This reveals an unexpected, possibly unitary mechanism for what directs meiotic recombination to hotspots. It also reveals a likely biological function for enigmatic ncRNAs. We propose specific mechanisms by which ncRNA molecules, or some aspect of RNA metabolism associated with ncRNA loci, help to position recombination protein complexes at DSB hotspots within chromosomes.

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