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Free Content The Arabidopsis MEI1 gene encodes a protein with five BRCT domains that is involved in meiosis-specific DNA repair events independent of SPO11-induced DSBs

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Arabidopsis thaliana MEI1 was first described as a gene involved in male meiosis, encoding a short protein showing homology with a human acrosin–trypsin inhibitor. We have isolated a new allele of mei1, and shown that in both mutants male and female meiosis are affected. In both reproductive pathways, meiosis proceeds while chromosomes become fragmented, resulting in aberrant meiotic products and in a strongly reduced fertility. We have shown that the gene mutated in mei1 mutants actually encodes a protein of 972 amino acids that contains five BRCA1 C-terminus (BRCT) domains and is similar to proteins involved in the response to DNA damage and replication blocks in eukaryotes. During meiosis, recombination is initiated by the formation of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) induced by the protein SPO11. We analysed meiotic chromosome behaviour of the mei1 mutant in a spo11 mutant background and proved that the meiotic fragmentation observed in mei1 mutants was not the consequence of defects in the repair of meiotic DSBs induced by SPO11. We also analysed the effect of mei1 on the mitotic cell cycle but could not detect any sensitivity of mei1 seedlings to DNA-damaging agents like γ-rays or UV. Therefore, MEI1 is a BRCT-domain-containing protein that could be specific to the meiotic cell cycle and that plays a crucial role in some DNA repair events independent of SPO11 DSB recombination repair.
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Keywords: Arabidopsis; BRCT domains; MEI1; SpRAD4; TopBP1; meiosis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: INRA, Station de Génétique et d'Amélioration des Plantes, Route de Saint-Cyr 78026, Versailles Cedex, France

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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