SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Genetic recombination

178

Repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination requires resection of 5'-termini to generate 3'-single-strand DNA tails. Key components of this reaction are exonuclease 1 and the bifunctional endo/exonuclease, Mre11 (refs 2-4). Mre11 endonuclease activity is critical when DSB termini are blocked by bound protein–such as by the DNA end-joining complex, topoisomerases or the meiotic transesterase Spo11 (refs 7-13)–but a specific function for the Mre11 3'-5' exonuclease activity has remained elusive. Here we use Saccharomyces cerevisiae to reveal a role for the Mre11 exonuclease during the resection of Spo11-linked 5'-DNA termini in vivo. We show that the residual resection observed in Exo1-mutant cells is dependent on Mre11, and that both exonuclease activities are required for efficient DSB repair. Previous work has indicated that resection traverses unidirectionally. Using a combination of physical assays for 5'-end processing, our results indicate an alternative mechanism involving bidirectional resection. First, Mre11 nicks the strand to be resected up to 300 nucleotides from the 5'-terminus of the DSB–much further away than previously assumed. Second, this nick enables resection in a bidirectional manner, using Exo1 in the 5'-3' direction away from the DSB, and Mre11 in the 3'-5' direction towards the DSB end. Mre11 exonuclease activity also confers resistance to DNA damage in cycling cells, suggesting that Mre11-catalysed resection may be a general feature of various DNA repair pathways.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Adenosine triphosphate, DNA repair, Homologous recombination, BRCA1, Genetic recombination

167

Site-specific recombinases (SSRs) can perform DNA rearrangements, including deletions, inversions and translocations when their naive target sequences are placed strategically into the genome of an organism. Hence, in order to employ SSRs in heterologous hosts, their target sites have to be introduced into the genome of an organism before the enzyme can be practically employed. Engineered SSRs hold great promise for biotechnology and advanced biomedical applications, as they promise to extend the usefulness of SSRs to allow efficient and specific recombination of pre-existing, natural genomic sequences. However, the generation of enzymes with desired properties remains challenging. Here, we use substrate-linked directed evolution in combination with molecular modeling to rationally engineer an efficient and specific recombinase (sTre) that readily and specifically recombines a sequence present in the HIV-1 genome. We elucidate the role of key residues implicated in the molecular recognition mechanism and we present a rationale for sTre’s enhanced specificity. Combining evolutionary and rational approaches should help in accelerating the generation of enzymes with desired properties for use in biotechnology and biomedicine.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Biology, Yeast, Genetic recombination

145

Lactococcus lactis is a Gram-positive (endotoxin-free) food-grade bacteria exploited as alternative to Escherichia coli for recombinant protein production. We have explored here for the first time the ability of this platform as producer of complex, self-assembling protein materials.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Gut flora, Recombinant DNA, Escherichia coli, Biotechnology, Proteobacteria, Genetic recombination

39

DNA molecules are continuously released through decomposition of organic matter and are ubiquitous in most environments. Such DNA becomes fragmented and damaged (often <100 bp) and may persist in the environment for more than half a million years. Fragmented DNA is recognized as nutrient source for microbes, but not as potential substrate for bacterial evolution. Here, we show that fragmented DNA molecules (≥20 bp) that additionally may contain abasic sites, cross-links, or miscoding lesions are acquired by the environmental bacterium Acinetobacter baylyi through natural transformation. With uptake of DNA from a 43,000-y-old woolly mammoth bone, we further demonstrate that such natural transformation events include ancient DNA molecules. We find that the DNA recombination is RecA recombinase independent and is directly linked to DNA replication. We show that the adjacent nucleotide variations generated by uptake of short DNA fragments escape mismatch repair. Moreover, double-nucleotide polymorphisms appear more common among genomes of transformable than nontransformable bacteria. Our findings reveal that short and damaged, including truly ancient, DNA molecules, which are present in large quantities in the environment, can be acquired by bacteria through natural transformation. Our findings open for the possibility that natural genetic exchange can occur with DNA up to several hundreds of thousands years old.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, DNA repair, Escherichia coli, Natural environment, Genetic recombination

31

DNA interstrand cross-links (ICLs) block replication fork progression by inhibiting DNA strand separation. Repair of ICLs requires sequential incisions, translesion DNA synthesis, and homologous recombination, but the full set of factors involved in these transactions remains unknown. We devised a technique called chromatin mass spectrometry (CHROMASS) to study protein recruitment dynamics during perturbed DNA replication in Xenopus egg extracts. Using CHROMASS, we systematically monitored protein assembly and disassembly on ICL-containing chromatin. Among numerous prospective DNA repair factors, we identified SLF1 and SLF2, which form a complex with RAD18 and together define a pathway that suppresses genome instability by recruiting the SMC5/6 cohesion complex to DNA lesions. Our study provides a global analysis of an entire DNA repair pathway and reveals the mechanism of SMC5/6 relocalization to damaged DNA in vertebrate cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, DNA repair, Homologous recombination, DNA replication, Genetic recombination

25

The tumour suppressor complex BRCA1-BARD1 functions in the repair of DNA double-stranded breaks by homologous recombination. During this process, BRCA1-BARD1 facilitates the nucleolytic resection of DNA ends to generate a single-stranded template for the recruitment of another tumour suppressor complex, BRCA2-PALB2, and the recombinase RAD51. Here, by examining purified wild-type and mutant BRCA1-BARD1, we show that both BRCA1 and BARD1 bind DNA and interact with RAD51, and that BRCA1-BARD1 enhances the recombinase activity of RAD51. Mechanistically, BRCA1-BARD1 promotes the assembly of the synaptic complex, an essential intermediate in RAD51-mediated DNA joint formation. We provide evidence that BRCA1 and BARD1 are indispensable for RAD51 stimulation. Notably, BRCA1-BARD1 mutants with weakened RAD51 interactions show compromised DNA joint formation and impaired mediation of homologous recombination and DNA repair in cells. Our results identify a late role of BRCA1-BARD1 in homologous recombination, an attribute of the tumour suppressor complex that could be targeted in cancer therapy.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, DNA repair, Homologous recombination, BRCA2, BRCA1, Genetic recombination

22

Genome-wide analysis of thymic lymphomas from Tp53(-/-) mice with wild-type or C-terminally truncated Rag2 revealed numerous off-target, RAG-mediated DNA rearrangements. A significantly higher fraction of these errors mutated known and suspected oncogenes/tumor suppressor genes than did sporadic rearrangements (p < 0.0001). This tractable mouse model recapitulates recent findings in human pre-B ALL and allows comparison of wild-type and mutant RAG2. Recurrent, RAG-mediated deletions affected Notch1, Pten, Ikzf1, Jak1, Phlda1, Trat1, and Agpat9. Rag2 truncation substantially increased the frequency of off-target V(D)J recombination. The data suggest that interactions between Rag2 and a specific chromatin modification, H3K4me3, support V(D)J recombination fidelity. Oncogenic effects of off-target rearrangements created by this highly regulated recombinase may need to be considered in design of site-specific nucleases engineered for genome modification.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Genome, DNA repair, Mouse, Genetic recombination

19

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) systems in bacteria and archaea use RNA-guided nuclease activity to provide adaptive immunity against invading foreign nucleic acids. Here, we report the use of type II bacterial CRISPR-Cas system in Saccharomyces cerevisiae for genome engineering. The CRISPR-Cas components, Cas9 gene and a designer genome targeting CRISPR guide RNA (gRNA), show robust and specific RNA-guided endonuclease activity at targeted endogenous genomic loci in yeast. Using constitutive Cas9 expression and a transient gRNA cassette, we show that targeted double-strand breaks can increase homologous recombination rates of single- and double-stranded oligonucleotide donors by 5-fold and 130-fold, respectively. In addition, co-transformation of a gRNA plasmid and a donor DNA in cells constitutively expressing Cas9 resulted in near 100% donor DNA recombination frequency. Our approach provides foundations for a simple and powerful genome engineering tool for site-specific mutagenesis and allelic replacement in yeast.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Genome, RNA, Genetic recombination

15

Meiotic recombination shuffles genetic information from sexual species into gametes to create novel combinations in offspring. Thus, recombination is an important factor in inheritance, adaptation and responses to selection. However, recombination is not a static parameter - meiotic recombination rate is sensitive to variation in the environment, especially temperature. That recombination rates change in response to both increases and decreases in temperature was reported inDrosophilaa century ago, and since then in several other species. But it is still unclear what the underlying mechanism is, and whether low and high temperature effects are mechanistically equivalent. Here we show that, as inDrosophila, both high and low temperatures increase meiotic crossovers inArabidopsis thaliana.We show that, from a nadir at 18C, both lower and higher temperatures increase recombination through additional class I - interfering - crossovers. The increase in crossovers however appears to be mechanistically at least somewhat distinct, as they differ in their association with the DNA repair protein MLH1. We also find that, in contrast to what has been reported in barley, synaptonemal complex length is negatively correlated with temperature; thus, an increase in chromosome axis length may account for increased crossovers at low temperature inA. thaliana, but cannot explain the increased crossovers observed at high temperature. The plasticity of recombination has important implications for evolution and breeding, and also for interpreting observations of recombination rate variation among natural populations.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Natural selection, Evolution, Chromosome, DNA repair, Chromosomal crossover, Genetic recombination

8

Homologous recombination plays a central role in guaranteeing chromosome segregation during meiosis. The precise regulation of the resolution of recombination intermediates is critical for the success of meiosis. Many proteins, including the RECQ DNA helicases (Sgs1/BLM) and Topoisomerase 3α (TOP3α), have essential functions in managing recombination intermediates. However, many other factors involved in this process remain to be defined. Here we report the isolation of meiotic chromosome association 1 (MEICA1), a novel protein participating in meiotic recombination in rice (Oryza sativa). Loss of MEICA1 leads to non-homologous chromosome association, the formation of massive chromosome bridges, and fragmentation. MEICA1 interacts with MSH7, suggesting its role in preventing non-allelic recombination. In addition, MEICA1 has an anti-crossover activity revealed by suppressing the defects of crossover formation in msh5 meica1 compared with that in msh5, showing the similar function with its interacted protein TOP3α. Thus, our data establish two pivotal roles for MEICA1 in meiosis: preventing aberrant meiotic recombination and regulating crossover formation.

Concepts: DNA, Chromosome, DNA repair, Homologous recombination, Meiosis, Chromosomal crossover, Helicase, Genetic recombination