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PLoS Genet. 2015 Nov 5;11(11):e1005664. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005664. eCollection 2015 Nov.

Members of the RAD52 Epistasis Group Contribute to Mitochondrial Homologous Recombination and Double-Strand Break Repair in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States of America.


Mitochondria contain an independently maintained genome that encodes several proteins required for cellular respiration. Deletions in the mitochondrial genome have been identified that cause several maternally inherited diseases and are associated with certain cancers and neurological disorders. The majority of these deletions in human cells are flanked by short, repetitive sequences, suggesting that these deletions may result from recombination events. Our current understanding of the maintenance and repair of mtDNA is quite limited compared to our understanding of similar events in the nucleus. Many nuclear DNA repair proteins are now known to also localize to mitochondria, but their function and the mechanism of their action remain largely unknown. This study investigated the contribution of the nuclear double-strand break repair (DSBR) proteins Rad51p, Rad52p and Rad59p in mtDNA repair. We have determined that both Rad51p and Rad59p are localized to the matrix of the mitochondria and that Rad51p binds directly to mitochondrial DNA. In addition, a mitochondrially-targeted restriction endonuclease (mtLS-KpnI) was used to produce a unique double-strand break (DSB) in the mitochondrial genome, which allowed direct analysis of DSB repair in vivo in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We find that loss of these three proteins significantly decreases the rate of spontaneous deletion events and the loss of Rad51p and Rad59p impairs the repair of induced mtDNA DSBs.

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