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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Mar;39(4):1460-72. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq993. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Meiotic recombination protein Rec12: functional conservation, crossover homeostasis and early crossover/non-crossover decision.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham Street (slot 516), Little Rock, AR 72205-7199, USA.


In fission yeast and other eukaryotes, Rec12 (Spo11) is thought to catalyze the formation of dsDNA breaks (DSBs) that initiate homologous recombination in meiosis. Rec12 is orthologous to the catalytic subunit of topoisomerase VI (Top6A). Guided by the crystal structure of Top6A, we engineered the rec12 locus to encode Rec12 proteins each with a single amino acid substitution in a conserved residue. Of 21 substitutions, 10 significantly reduced or abolished meiotic DSBs, gene conversion, crossover recombination and the faithful segregation of chromosomes. Critical residues map within the metal ion-binding pocket toprim (E179A, D229A, D231A), catalytic region 5Y-CAP (R94A, D95A, Y98F) and the DNA-binding interface (K201A, G202E, R209A, K242A). A subset of substitutions reduced DSBs but maintained crossovers, demonstrating crossover homeostasis. Furthermore, a strong separation of function mutation (R304A) suggests that the crossover/non-crossover decision is established early by a protein-protein interaction surface of Rec12. Fission yeast has multiple crossovers per bivalent, and chromosome segregation was robust above a threshold of about one crossover per bivalent, below which non-disjunction occurred. These results support structural and functional conservation among Rec12/Spo11/Top6A family members for the catalysis of DSBs, and they reveal how Rec12 regulates other features of meiotic chromosome dynamics.

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