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Oct 2011 Nature

Bidirectional resection of DNA double-strand breaks by Mre11 and Exo1.

Auteurs

Garcia V, Phelps SE, Gray S, Neale MJ

Résumé

Repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination requires resection of 5′-termini to generate 3′-single-strand DNA tails. Key components of this reaction are exonuclease 1 and the bifunctional endo/exonuclease, Mre11 (refs 2-4). Mre11 endonuclease activity is critical when DSB termini are blocked by bound protein–such as by the DNA end-joining complex, topoisomerases or the meiotic transesterase Spo11 (refs 7-13)–but a specific function for the Mre11 3′-5′ exonuclease activity has remained elusive. Here we use Saccharomyces cerevisiae to reveal a role for the Mre11 exonuclease during the resection of Spo11-linked 5′-DNA termini in vivo. We show that the residual resection observed in Exo1-mutant cells is dependent on Mre11, and that both exonuclease activities are required for efficient DSB repair. Previous work has indicated that resection traverses unidirectionally. Using a combination of physical assays for 5′-end processing, our results indicate an alternative mechanism involving bidirectional resection. First, Mre11 nicks the strand to be resected up to 300 nucleotides from the 5′-terminus of the DSB–much further away than previously assumed. Second, this nick enables resection in a bidirectional manner, using Exo1 in the 5′-3′ direction away from the DSB, and Mre11 in the 3′-5′ direction towards the DSB end. Mre11 exonuclease activity also confers resistance to DNA damage in cycling cells, suggesting that Mre11-catalysed resection may be a general feature of various DNA repair pathways.

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