Visualization of DNA double-strand break repair in live bacteria reveals dynamic recruitment of Bacillus subtilis RecF, RecO and RecN proteins to distinct sites on the nucleoids.

Research paper by Dawit D Kidane, Humberto H Sanchez, Juan C JC Alonso, Peter L PL Graumann

Indexed on: 10 Jun '04Published on: 10 Jun '04Published in: Molecular Microbiology


We have found that SMC-like RecN protein, RecF and RecO proteins that are involved in DNA recombination play an important role in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair in Bacillus subtilis. Upon induction of DNA DSBs, RecN, RecO and RecF localized as a discrete focus on the nucleoids in a majority of cells, whereas two or three foci were rarely observed. RecN, RecO and RecF co-localized to the induced foci, with RecN localizing first, while RecO localized later, followed by RecF. Thus, three repair proteins were differentially recruited to distinct sites on the nucleoids, potentially constituting active DSB repair centres (RCs). RecF did not form regular foci in the absence of RecN and failed to form any foci in recO cells, demonstrating a central role for RecN and RecO in initializing the formation of RCs. RecN/O/F foci were detected in recA, recG or recU mutant cells, indicating that the proteins act upstream of proteins involved in synapsis or post-synapsis. In the absence of exogenous DNA damage, RCs were rare, but they accumulated in recA and recU cells, suggesting that DSBs occur frequently in the absence of RecA or RecU. The results suggest a model in which RecN that forms multimers in solution and high-molecular-weight complexes in cells containing DSBs initiates the formation of RCs that mediate DSB repair with the homologous sister chromosome, which presents a novel concept for DSB repair in prokaryotes.