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PLOS Genetics


During meiosis, recombination between homologous chromosomes (homologs) generates crossovers that promote proper segregation at the first meiotic division. Recombination is initiated by Spo11-catalyzed DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). 5' end resection of the DSBs creates 3' single strand tails that two recombinases, Rad51 and Dmc1, bind to form presynaptic filaments that search for homology, mediate strand invasion and generate displacement loops (D-loops). D-loop processing then forms crossover and noncrossover recombinants. Meiotic recombination occurs in two temporally distinct phases. During Phase 1, Rad51 is inhibited and Dmc1 mediates the interhomolog recombination that promotes homolog synapsis. In Phase 2, Rad51 becomes active and functions with Rad54 to repair residual DSBs, making increasing use of sister chromatids. The transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is controlled by the meiotic recombination checkpoint through the meiosis-specific effector kinase Mek1. This work shows that constitutive activation of Rad51 in Phase 1 results in a subset of DSBs being repaired by a Rad51-mediated interhomolog recombination pathway that is distinct from that of Dmc1. Strand invasion intermediates generated by Rad51 require more time to be processed into recombinants, resulting in a meiotic recombination checkpoint delay in prophase I. Without the checkpoint, Rad51-generated intermediates are more likely to involve a sister chromatid, thereby increasing Meiosis I chromosome nondisjunction. This Rad51 interhomolog recombination pathway is specifically promoted by the conserved 5'-3' helicase PIF1 and its paralog, RRM3 and requires Pif1 helicase activity and its interaction with PCNA. This work demonstrates that (1) inhibition of Rad51 during Phase 1 is important to prevent competition with Dmc1 for DSB repair, (2) Rad51-mediated meiotic recombination intermediates are initially processed differently than those made by Dmc1, and (3) the meiotic recombination checkpoint provides time during prophase 1 for processing of Rad51-generated recombination intermediates.


This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R01 GM050717 and R35 GM140684 to NMH and R01 GM125800 to GVB; the Intramural Research Program through the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute to ML and a private donation from Eugene and Carol Cheng to NMH.




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