[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hop2–Mnd1 complex functions with the DMC1 recombinase in meiotic recombination. Hop2–Mnd1 stabilizes the DMC1-single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) filament and promotes the capture of the double-stranded DNA partner by the recombinase filament to assemble the synaptic complex. Herein, we define the action mechanism of Hop2–Mnd1 in DMC1-mediated recombination. Small angle X-ray scattering analysis and electron microscopy reveal that the heterodimeric Hop2–Mnd1 is a V-shaped molecule. We show that the protein complex harbors three distinct DNA binding sites, and deter-mine their functional relevance. Specifically, the N-terminal double-stranded DNA binding functions of Hop2 and Mnd1 co-operate to mediate synaptic complex assembly, whereas ssDNA binding by the Hop2 C-terminus helps stabilize the DMC1-ssDNA filament. A model of the Hop2-Mnd1-DMC1-ssDNA ensemble is proposed to explain how it mediates homologous DNA pairing in meiotic recombination.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hop2-Mnd1 complex functions with the DMC1 recombinase in meiotic recombination. Hop2-Mnd1 stabilizes the DMC1-single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) filament and promotes the capture of the double-stranded DNA partner by the recombinase filament to assemble the synaptic complex. Herein, we define the action mechanism of Hop2-Mnd1 in DMC1-mediated recombination. Small angle X-ray scattering analysis and electron microscopy reveal that the heterodimeric Hop2-Mnd1 is a V-shaped molecule. We show that the protein complex harbors three distinct DNA binding sites, and determine their functional relevance. Specifically, the N-terminal double-stranded DNA binding functions of Hop2 and Mnd1 co-operate to mediate synaptic complex assembly, whereas ssDNA binding by the Hop2 C-terminus helps stabilize the DMC1-ssDNA filament. A model of the Hop2-Mnd1-DMC1-ssDNA ensemble is proposed to explain how it mediates homologous DNA pairing in meiotic recombination.
Nucleic Acids Research 10/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Homologous recombination is the key process that generates genetic diversity and drives evolution. SPO11 protein triggers recombination by introducing DNA double stranded breaks at discreet areas of the genome called recombination hotspots. The hotspot locations are largely determined by the DNA binding specificity of the PRDM9 protein in human, mice and most other mammals. In budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae, which lacks a Prdm9 gene, meiotic breaks are formed opportunistically in the regions of accessible chromatin, primarily at gene promoters. The genome-wide distribution of hotspots in this organism can be altered by tethering Spo11 protein to Gal4 recognition sequences in the strain expressing Spo11 attached to the DNA binding domain of the Gal4 transcription factor. To establish whether similar re-targeting of meiotic breaks can be achieved in PRDM9-containing organisms we have generated a Gal4BD-Spo11 mouse that expresses SPO11 protein joined to the DNA binding domain of yeast Gal4.
We have mapped the genome-wide distribution of the recombination initiation sites in the Gal4BD-Spo11 mice. More than two hundred of the hotspots in these mice were novel and were likely defined by Gal4BD, as the Gal4 consensus motif was clustered around the centers in these hotspots. Surprisingly, meiotic DNA breaks in the Gal4BD-Spo11 mice were significantly depleted near the ends of chromosomes. The effect is particularly striking at the pseudoautosomal region of the X and Y chromosomes -- normally the hottest region in the genome.
Our data suggest that specific, yet-unidentified factors influence the initiation of meiotic recombination at subtelomeric chromosomal regions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How homologous chromosomes (homologs) find their partner, pair, and recombine during meiosis constitutes the central phenomenon in eukaryotic genetics. It is widely believed that, in most organisms, SPO11-mediated DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) introduced during prophase I precede and are required for efficient homolog pairing. We now show that, in the mouse, a significant level of homolog pairing precedes programmed DNA cleavage. Strikingly, this early chromosome pairing still requires SPO11 but is not dependent on its ability to make DSBs or homologous recombination proteins. Intriguingly, SUN1, a protein required for telomere attachment to the nuclear envelope and for post-DSB synapsis, is also required for early pre-DSB homolog pairing. Furthermore, pre-DSB pairing at telomeres persists upon entry into prophase I and is most likely important for initiation of synapsis. Our findings suggest that the DSB-triggered homology search may mainly serve to proofread and stabilize the pre-DSB pairing of homologous chromosomes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Failure of homologous synapsis during meiotic prophase triggers transcriptional repression. Asynapsis of the X and Y chromosomes and their consequent silencing is essential for spermatogenesis. However, asynapsis of portions of autosomes in heterozygous translocation carriers may be detrimental for meiotic progression. In fact, a wide range of phenotypic outcomes from meiotic arrest to normal spermatogenesis have been described and the causes of such a variation remain elusive. To better understand the consequences of asynapsis in male carriers of Robertsonian translocations, we focused on the dynamics of recruitment of markers of asynapsis and meiotic silencing at unsynapsed autosomal trivalents in the spermatocytes of Robertsonian translocation carrier mice. Here we report that the enrichment of breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and histone γH2AX at unsynapsed trivalents declines during the pachytene stage of meiosis and differs from that observed in the sex body. Furthermore, histone variant H3.3S31, which associates with the sex chromosomes in metaphase I/anaphase I spermatocytes, localizes to autosomes in 12% and 31% of nuclei from carriers of one and three translocations, respectively. These data suggest that the proportion of spermatocytes with markers of meiotic silencing of unsynapsed chromatin (MSUC) at trivalents depends on both, the stage of meiosis and the number of translocations. This may explain some of the variability in phenotypic outcomes associated with Robertsonian translocations. In addition our data suggest that the dynamics of response to asynapsis in Robertsonian translocations differs from the response to sex chromosomal asynapsis in the male germ line.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e75970. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In female (XX) mammals, one of the two X chromosomes is inactivated to ensure an equal dose of X-linked genes with males (XY). X-chromosome inactivation in eutherian mammals is mediated by the non-coding RNA Xist. Xist is not found in metatherians (marsupials), and how X-chromosome inactivation is initiated in these mammals has been the subject of speculation for decades. Using the marsupial Monodelphis domestica, here we identify Rsx (RNA-on-the-silent X), an RNA that has properties consistent with a role in X-chromosome inactivation. Rsx is a large, repeat-rich RNA that is expressed only in females and is transcribed from, and coats, the inactive X chromosome. In female germ cells, in which both X chromosomes are active, Rsx is silenced, linking Rsx expression to X-chromosome inactivation and reactivation. Integration of an Rsx transgene on an autosome in mouse embryonic stem cells leads to gene silencing in cis. Our findings permit comparative studies of X-chromosome inactivation in mammals and pose questions about the mechanisms by which X-chromosome inactivation is achieved in eutherians.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic recombination occurs during meiosis, the key developmental programme of gametogenesis. Recombination in mammals has been recently linked to the activity of a histone H3 methyltransferase, PR domain containing 9 (PRDM9), the product of the only known speciation-associated gene in mammals. PRDM9 is thought to determine the preferred recombination sites--recombination hotspots--through sequence-specific binding of its highly polymorphic multi-Zn-finger domain. Nevertheless, Prdm9 knockout mice are proficient at initiating recombination. Here we map and analyse the genome-wide distribution of recombination initiation sites in Prdm9 knockout mice and in two mouse strains with different Prdm9 alleles and their F(1) hybrid. We show that PRDM9 determines the positions of practically all hotspots in the mouse genome, with the exception of the pseudo-autosomal region (PAR)--the only area of the genome that undergoes recombination in 100% of cells. Surprisingly, hotspots are still observed in Prdm9 knockout mice, and as in wild type, these hotspots are found at H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) trimethylation marks. However, in the absence of PRDM9, most recombination is initiated at promoters and at other sites of PRDM9-independent H3K4 trimethylation. Such sites are rarely targeted in wild-type mice, indicating an unexpected role of the PRDM9 protein in sequestering the recombination machinery away from gene-promoter regions and other functional genomic elements.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meiotic DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) initiate genetic recombination in discrete areas of the genome called recombination hotspots. DSBs can be directly mapped using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq). Nevertheless, the genome-wide mapping of recombination hotspots in mammals is still a challenge due to the low frequency of recombination, high heterogeneity of the germ cell population, and the relatively low efficiency of ChIP. To overcome these limitations we have developed a novel method--single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) sequencing (SSDS)--that specifically detects protein-bound single-stranded DNA at DSB ends. SSDS comprises a computational framework for the specific detection of ssDNA-derived reads in a sequencing library and a new library preparation procedure for the enrichment of fragments originating from ssDNA. The use of our technique reduces the nonspecific double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) background >10-fold. Our method can be extended to other systems where the identification of ssDNA or DSBs is desired.
Genome Research 02/2012; 22(5):957-65. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The protein Vezf1 plays multiple roles important for embryonic development. In Vezf1(-/-) mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells, our earlier data showed widespread changes in gene-expression profiles, including decreased expression of the full-length active isoform of Dnmt3b methyltransferase and concomitant genome-wide reduction in DNA methylation. Here we show that in HeLaS3 cells there is a strong genome-wide correlation between Vezf1 binding and peaks of elongating Ser2-P RNA polymerase (Pol) ll, reflecting Vezf1-dependent slowing of elongation. In WT mES cells, the elongating form of RNA pol II accumulates near Vezf1 binding sites within the dnmt3b gene and at several other Vezf1 sites, and this accumulation is significantly reduced at these sites in Vezf1(-/-) mES cells. Depending upon genomic location, Vezf1-mediated Pol II pausing can have different regulatory roles in transcription and splicing. We find examples of genes in which Vezf1 binding sites are located near cassette exons, and in which loss of Vezf1 leads to a change in the relative abundance of alternatively spliced messages. We further show that Vezf1 interacts with Mrg15/Mrgbp, a protein that recognizes H3K36 trimethylation, consistent with the role of histone modifications at alternatively spliced sites.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(7):2370-5. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meiotic recombination and chromosome synapsis between homologous chromosomes are essential for proper chromosome segregation at the first meiotic division. While recombination and synapsis, as well as checkpoints that monitor these two events, take place in the context of a prophase I-specific axial chromosome structure, it remains unclear how chromosome axis components contribute to these processes. We show here that many protein components of the meiotic chromosome axis, including SYCP2, SYCP3, HORMAD1, HORMAD2, SMC3, STAG3, and REC8, become post-translationally modified by phosphorylation during the prophase I stage. We found that HORMAD1 and SMC3 are phosphorylated at a consensus site for the ATM/ATR checkpoint kinase and that the phosphorylated forms of HORMAD1 and SMC3 localize preferentially to unsynapsed chromosomal regions where synapsis has not yet occurred, but not to synapsed or desynapsed regions. We investigated the genetic requirements for the phosphorylation events and revealed that the phosphorylation levels of HORMAD1, HORMAD2, and SMC3 are dramatically reduced in the absence of initiation of meiotic recombination, whereas BRCA1 and SYCP3 are required for normal levels of phosphorylation of HORMAD1 and HORMAD2, but not of SMC3. Interestingly, reduced HORMAD1 and HORMAD2 phosphorylation is associated with impaired targeting of the MSUC (meiotic silencing of unsynapsed chromatin) machinery to unsynapsed chromosomes, suggesting that these post-translational events contribute to the regulation of the synapsis surveillance system. We propose that modifications of chromosome axis components serve as signals that facilitate chromosomal events including recombination, checkpoint control, transcription, and synapsis regulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chromosome-wide inactivation is an epigenetic signature of sex chromosomes. The mechanism by which the chromosome-wide domain is recognized and gene silencing is induced remains unclear. Here we identify an essential mechanism underlying the recognition of the chromosome-wide domain in the male germline. We show that mediator of DNA damage checkpoint 1 (MDC1), a binding partner of phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX), defines the chromosome-wide domain, initiates meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI), and leads to XY body formation. Importantly, MSCI consists of two genetically separable steps. The first step is the MDC1-independent recognition of the unsynapsed axis by DNA damage response (DDR) factors such as ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR), TOPBP1, and γH2AX. The second step is the MDC1-dependent chromosome-wide spreading of DDR factors to the entire chromatin. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in somatic cells, MDC1-dependent amplification of the γH2AX signal occurs following replicative stress and is associated with transcriptional silencing. We propose that a common DDR pathway underlies both MSCI and the response of somatic cells to replicative stress. These results establish that the DDR pathway centered on MDC1 triggers epigenetic silencing of sex chromosomes in germ cells.
Genes & development 05/2011; 25(9):959-71. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meiotic recombination predominantly occurs at discrete genomic loci called recombination hotspots, but the features defining these areas are still largely unknown (reviewed in refs 1-5). To allow a comprehensive analysis of hotspot-associated DNA and chromatin characteristics, we developed a direct molecular approach for mapping meiotic DNA double-strand breaks that initiate recombination. Here we present the genome-wide distribution of recombination initiation sites in the mouse genome. Hotspot centres are mapped with approximately 200-nucleotide precision, which allows analysis of the fine structural details of the preferred recombination sites. We determine that hotspots share a centrally distributed consensus motif, possess a nucleotide skew that changes polarity at the centres of hotspots and have an intrinsic preference to be occupied by a nucleosome. Furthermore, we find that the vast majority of recombination initiation sites in mouse males are associated with testis-specific trimethylation of lysine 4 on histone H3 that is distinct from histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation marks associated with transcription. The recombination map presented here has been derived from a homogeneous mouse population with a defined genetic background and therefore lends itself to extensive future experimental exploration. We note that the mapping technique developed here does not depend on the availability of genetic markers and hence can be easily adapted to other species with complex genomes. Our findings uncover several fundamental features of mammalian recombination hotspots and underline the power of the new recombination map for future studies of genetic recombination, genome stability and evolution.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ubiquitously expressed Rad51 recombinase and the meiosis-specific Dmc1 recombinase promote the formation of strand-invasion products (D-loops) between homologous molecules. Strand-invasion products are processed by either the double-strand break repair (DSBR) or synthesis-dependent strand annealing (SDSA) pathway. D-loops destined to be processed by SDSA need to dissociate, producing non-crossovers, and those destined for DSBR should resist dissociation to generate crossovers. The mechanism that channels recombination intermediates into different homologous-recombination pathways is unknown. Here we show that D-loops in a human DMC1-driven reaction are substantially more resistant to dissociation by branch-migration proteins such as RAD54 than those formed by RAD51. We propose that the intrinsic resistance to dissociation of DMC1 strand-invasion intermediates may account for why DMC1 is essential to ensure the proper segregation of chromosomes in meiosis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hop2-Mnd1 is a meiotic recombination mediator that stimulates DNA strand invasion by both Dmc1 and Rad51. To understand the biochemical mechanism of this stimulation, we directly visualized the heterodimer acting on single molecules of duplex DNA using optical tweezers and video fluorescence microscopy. The results show that the Hop2-Mnd1 heterodimer efficiently condenses double-stranded DNA via formation of a bright spot or DNA condensate. The condensation of DNA is Hop2-Mnd1 concentration-dependent, reversible, and specific to the heterodimer, as neither Hop2 nor Mnd1 acting alone can facilitate this reaction. The results also show that the rate-limiting nucleation step of DNA condensation is overcome in the presence of divalent metal ions, with the following order of preference: Mn(2+)>Mg(2+)>Ca(2+). Hop2-Mnd1/Dmc1/single-stranded DNA nucleoprotein filaments also condense double-stranded DNA in a heterodimer concentration-dependent manner. Of importance, the concentration dependence parallels that seen in DNA strand exchange. We propose that rapid DNA condensation is a key factor in stimulating synapsis, whereas decondensation may facilitate the invasion step and/or the ensuing branch migration process.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) is a DNA-binding protein that plays important roles in chromatin organization, although the mechanism by which CTCF carries out these functions is not fully understood. Recent studies show that CTCF recruits the cohesin complex to insulator sites and that cohesin is required for insulator activity. Here we showed that the DEAD-box RNA helicase p68 (DDX5) and its associated noncoding RNA, steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA), form a complex with CTCF that is essential for insulator function. p68 was detected at CTCF sites in the IGF2/H19 imprinted control region (ICR) as well as other genomic CTCF sites. In vivo depletion of SRA or p68 reduced CTCF-mediated insulator activity at the IGF2/H19 ICR, increased levels of IGF2 expression, and increased interactions between the endodermal enhancer and IGF2 promoter. p68/SRA also interacts with members of the cohesin complex. Depletion of either p68 or SRA does not affect CTCF binding to its genomic sites, but does reduce cohesin binding. The results suggest that p68/SRA stabilizes the interaction of cohesin with CTCF by binding to both, and is required for proper insulator function.
Genes & development 10/2010; 24(22):2543-55. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Meiotic recombination events tend to cluster into narrow spans of a few kilobases long, called recombination hotspots. Such hotspots are not conserved between human and chimpanzee and vary between different human ethnic groups. At the same time, recombination hotspots are heritable. Previous studies showed instances where differences in recombination rate could be associated with sequence polymorphisms.
In this work we developed a novel computational approach, LDsplit, to perform a large-scale association study of recombination hotspots with genetic polymorphisms. LDsplit was able to correctly predict the association between the FG11 SNP and the DNA2 hotspot observed by sperm typing. Extensive simulation demonstrated the accuracy of LDsplit under various conditions. Applying LDsplit to human chromosome 6, we found that for a significant fraction of hotspots, there is an association between variations in intensity of historical recombination and sequence polymorphisms. From flanking regions of the SNPs output by LDsplit we identified a conserved 11-mer motif GGNGGNAGGGG, whose complement partially matches 13-mer CCNCCNTNNCCNC, a critical motif for the regulation of recombination hotspots.
Our result suggests that computational approaches based on historical recombination events are likely to be more powerful than previously anticipated. The putative associations we identified may be a promising step toward uncovering the mechanisms of recombination hotspots.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both in mice and humans, two major SPO11 isoforms are generated by alternative splicing: SPO11alpha (exon 2 skipped) and SPO11beta. Thus, the alternative splicing event must have emerged before the mouse and human lineages diverged and was maintained during 90 million years of evolution, arguing for an essential role for both isoforms. Here we demonstrate that developmental regulation of alternative splicing at the Spo11 locus governs the sequential expression of SPO11 isoforms in male meiotic prophase. Protein quantification in juvenile mice and in prophase mutants indicates that early spermatocytes synthesize primarily SPO11beta. Estimation of the number of SPO11 dimers (betabeta/alphabeta/alphaalpha) in mutants in which spermatocytes undergo a normal number of double strand breaks but arrest in midprophase due to inefficient repair argues for a role for SPO11beta-containing dimers in introducing the breaks in leptonema. Expression kinetics in males suggested a role for SPO11alpha in pachytene/diplotene spermatocytes. Nevertheless, we found that both alternative transcripts can be detected in oocytes throughout prophase I, arguing against a male-specific function for this isoform. Altogether, our data support a role for SPO11alpha in mid- to late prophase, presumably acting as a topoisomerase, that would be conserved in male and female meiocytes.
Molecular and cellular biology 09/2010; 30(18):4391-403. · 6.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hotspots of meiotic recombination can change rapidly over time. This instability and the reported high level of inter-individual variation in meiotic recombination puts in question the accuracy of the calculated hotspot map, which is based on the summation of past genetic crossovers. To estimate the accuracy of the computed recombination rate map, we have mapped genetic crossovers to a median resolution of 70 Kb in 10 CEPH pedigrees. We then compared the positions of crossovers with the hotspots computed from HapMap data and performed extensive computer simulations to compare the observed distributions of crossovers with the distributions expected from the calculated recombination rate maps. Here we show that a population-averaged hotspot map computed from linkage disequilibrium data predicts well present-day genetic crossovers. We find that computed hotspot maps accurately estimate both the strength and the position of meiotic hotspots. An in-depth examination of not-predicted crossovers shows that they are preferentially located in regions where hotspots are found in other populations. In summary, we find that by combining several computed population-specific maps we can capture the variation in individual hotspots to generate a hotspot map that can predict almost all present-day genetic crossovers.