Research Article

A transient assay for recombination demonstrates that Arabidopsis SNM1 and XRCC3 enhance non-homologous recombination

Published: September 16, 2011
Genet. Mol. Res. 10 (3) : 2104-2132 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/vol10-3gmr1347
Cite this Article:
(2011). A transient assay for recombination demonstrates that Arabidopsis SNM1 and XRCC3 enhance non-homologous recombination. Genet. Mol. Res. 10(3): gmr1347. https://doi.org/10.4238/vol10-3gmr1347
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Abstract

Replacement of endogenous genes by homologous recombination is rare in plants; the majority of genetic modifications are the result of transforming DNA molecules undergoing random genomic insertion by way of non-homologous recombination. Factors that affect chromatin remodeling and DNA repair are thought to have the potential to enhance the frequency of homologous recombination in plants. Conventional tools to study the frequencies of genetic recombination often rely on stable transformation-based approaches, with these systems being rarely capable of high-throughput or combinatorial analysis. We developed a series of vectors that use chemiluminescent (LUC and REN) reporter genes to assay the relative frequency of homologous and non-homologous recombination in plants. These transient assay vectors were used to screen 14 candidate genes for their effects on recombination frequencies in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Over-expression of Arabidopsis genes with sequence similarity to SNM1 from yeast and XRCC3 from humans enhanced the frequency of non-homologous recombination when assayed using two different donor vectors. Transient N. benthamiana leaf systems were also used in an alternative assay for preliminary measurements of homologous recombination frequencies, which were found to be enhanced by over-expression of RAD52, MIM and RAD51 from yeast, as well as CHR24 from Arabidopsis. The findings for the assays described here are in line with previous studies that analyzed recombination frequencies using stable transformation. The assays we report have revealed functions in non-homologous recombination for the Arabidopsis SNM1 and XRCC3 genes, so the suppression of these genes’ expression offers a potential means to enhance the gene targeting frequency in plants. Furthermore, our findings also indicate that plant gene targeting frequencies could be enhanced by over-expression of RAD52, MIM, CHR24, and RAD51 genes.

Replacement of endogenous genes by homologous recombination is rare in plants; the majority of genetic modifications are the result of transforming DNA molecules undergoing random genomic insertion by way of non-homologous recombination. Factors that affect chromatin remodeling and DNA repair are thought to have the potential to enhance the frequency of homologous recombination in plants. Conventional tools to study the frequencies of genetic recombination often rely on stable transformation-based approaches, with these systems being rarely capable of high-throughput or combinatorial analysis. We developed a series of vectors that use chemiluminescent (LUC and REN) reporter genes to assay the relative frequency of homologous and non-homologous recombination in plants. These transient assay vectors were used to screen 14 candidate genes for their effects on recombination frequencies in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. Over-expression of Arabidopsis genes with sequence similarity to SNM1 from yeast and XRCC3 from humans enhanced the frequency of non-homologous recombination when assayed using two different donor vectors. Transient N. benthamiana leaf systems were also used in an alternative assay for preliminary measurements of homologous recombination frequencies, which were found to be enhanced by over-expression of RAD52, MIM and RAD51 from yeast, as well as CHR24 from Arabidopsis. The findings for the assays described here are in line with previous studies that analyzed recombination frequencies using stable transformation. The assays we report have revealed functions in non-homologous recombination for the Arabidopsis SNM1 and XRCC3 genes, so the suppression of these genes’ expression offers a potential means to enhance the gene targeting frequency in plants. Furthermore, our findings also indicate that plant gene targeting frequencies could be enhanced by over-expression of RAD52, MIM, CHR24, and RAD51 genes.

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