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PLoS Genet. 2013;9(1):e1003165. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003165. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

MCM8 is required for a pathway of meiotic double-strand break repair independent of DMC1 in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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INRA, UMR1318, Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin, RD10, Versailles, France.


Mini-chromosome maintenance (MCM) 2-9 proteins are related helicases. The first six, MCM2-7, are essential for DNA replication in all eukaryotes. In contrast, MCM8 is not always conserved in eukaryotes but is present in Arabidopsis thaliana. MCM8 is required for 95% of meiotic crossovers (COs) in Drosophila and is essential for meiosis completion in mouse, prompting us to study this gene in Arabidopsis meiosis. Three allelic Atmcm8 mutants showed a limited level of chromosome fragmentation at meiosis. This defect was dependent on programmed meiotic double-strand break (DSB) formation, revealing a role for AtMCM8 in meiotic DSB repair. In contrast, CO formation was not affected, as shown both genetically and cytologically. The Atmcm8 DSB repair defect was greatly amplified in the absence of the DMC1 recombinase or in mutants affected in DMC1 dynamics (sds, asy1). The Atmcm8 fragmentation defect was also amplified in plants heterozygous for a mutation in either recombinase, DMC1 or RAD51. Finally, in the context of absence of homologous chromosomes (i.e. haploid), mutation of AtMCM8 also provoked a low level of chromosome fragmentation. This fragmentation was amplified by the absence of DMC1 showing that both MCM8 and DMC1 can promote repair on the sister chromatid in Arabidopsis haploids. Altogether, this establishes a role for AtMCM8 in meiotic DSB repair, in parallel to DMC1. We propose that MCM8 is involved with RAD51 in a backup pathway that repairs meiotic DSB without giving CO when the major pathway, which relies on DMC1, fails.

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