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Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Mar 18;47(5):2365-2376. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1273.

The conserved XPF:ERCC1-like Zip2:Spo16 complex controls meiotic crossover formation through structure-specific DNA binding.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


In eukaryotic meiosis, generation of haploid gametes depends on the formation of inter-homolog crossovers, which enable the pairing, physical linkage, and eventual segregation of homologs in the meiosis I division. A class of conserved meiosis-specific proteins, collectively termed ZMMs, are required for formation and spatial control of crossovers throughout eukaryotes. Here, we show that three Saccharomyces cerevisiae ZMM proteins-Zip2, Zip4 and Spo16-interact with one another and form a DNA-binding complex critical for crossover formation and control. We determined the crystal structure of a Zip2:Spo16 subcomplex, revealing a heterodimer structurally related to the XPF:ERCC1 endonuclease complex. Zip2:Spo16 lacks an endonuclease active site, but binds specific DNA structures found in early meiotic recombination intermediates. Mutations in multiple DNA-binding surfaces on Zip2:Spo16 severely compromise DNA binding, supporting a model in which the complex's central and HhH domains cooperate to bind DNA. Overall, our data support a model in which the Zip2:Zip4:Spo16 complex binds and stabilizes early meiotic recombination intermediates, then coordinates additional factors to promote crossover formation and license downstream events including synaptonemal complex assembly.

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