The role of Exo1p exonuclease in DNA end resection to generate gene conversion tracts in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The yeast Exo1p nuclease functions in multiple cellular roles: resection of DNA ends generated during recombination, telomere stability, DNA mismatch repair, and expansion of gaps formed during the repair of UV-induced DNA damage. In this study, we performed high-resolution mapping of spontaneous and UV-induced recombination events between homologs in exo1 strains, comparing the results with spontaneous and UV-induced recombination events in wild-type strains. One important comparison was the lengths of gene conversion tracts. Gene conversion events are usually interpreted as reflecting heteroduplex formation between interacting DNA molecules, followed by repair of mismatches within the heteroduplex. In most models of recombination, the length of the gene conversion tract is a function of the length of single-stranded DNA generated by end resection. Since the Exo1p has an important role in end resection, a reduction in the lengths of gene conversion tracts in exo1 strains was expected. In accordance with this expectation, gene conversion tract lengths associated with spontaneous crossovers in exo1 strains were reduced about twofold relative to wild type. For UV-induced events, conversion tract lengths associated with crossovers were also shorter for the exo1 strain than for the wild-type strain (3.2 and 7.6 kb, respectively). Unexpectedly, however, the lengths of conversion tracts that were unassociated with crossovers were longer in the exo1 strain than in the wild-type strain (6.2 and 4.8 kb, respectively). Alternative models of recombination in which the lengths of conversion tracts are determined by break-induced replication or oversynthesis during strand invasion are proposed to account for these observations.
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