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Recombination-independent recognition of DNA homology for meiotic silencing in Neurospora crassa

Abstract : Pairing of homologous chromosomes represents a critical step of meiosis in nearly all sexually reproducing species. While in some organisms meiotic pairing requires programmed DNA breakage and recombination, in many others it engages homologous chromosomes that remain apparently intact. The mechanistic nature of such recombination-independent pairing represents a fundamental question in molecular genetics. Using ‘meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA’ (MSUD) in Neurospora crassa as a model process, we demonstrate the existence of a cardinally different approach to DNA homology recognition in meiosis. The main advantage of MSUD over other experimental systems lies in its ability to identify any relatively short DNA fragment lacking a homologous allelic partner. Here we show that MSUD does not rely on the canonical mechanism of meiotic recombination, yet it is promoted by REC8, a conserved component of the meiotic cohesin complex. We also show that certain patterns of interspersed homology are recognized as pairable during MSUD. Such patterns need to be co-linear and must contain short tracts of sequence identity spaced apart with a periodicity of 21 or 22 base-pairs. By using these values as a guiding parameter in all-atom molecular modeling, we discover that homologous double-stranded DNA molecules can associate by forming quadruplex-based contacts with an interval of 2.5 helical turns, which requires right-handed plectonemic coiling and additional conformational changes in the intervening double-helical segments. These results (i) reconcile genetic and biophysical lines of evidence for the existence of direct homologous dsDNA-dsDNA pairing, (ii) identify a role for this process in initiating post-transcriptional silencing, and (iii) suggest that chromosomes are cross-matched in meiosis by a precise mechanism that operates on intact double-stranded DNA molecules.
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
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https://hal-pasteur.archives-ouvertes.fr/pasteur-03261429
Contributor : Eugene Gladyshev <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 15, 2021 - 4:48:10 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 3:15:06 AM

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Nicholas Rhoades, Tinh-Suong Nguyen, Guillaume Witz, Germano Cecere, Thomas Hammond, et al.. Recombination-independent recognition of DNA homology for meiotic silencing in Neurospora crassa. 2021. ⟨pasteur-03261429⟩

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