Genome-wide analysis reveals novel molecular features of mouse recombination hotspots.
ABSTRACT: Meiotic recombination predominantly occurs at discrete genomic loci called recombination hotspots, but the features defining these areas are still largely unknown (reviewed in refs 1-5). To allow a comprehensive analysis of hotspot-associated DNA and chromatin characteristics, we developed a direct molecular approach for mapping meiotic DNA double-strand breaks that initiate recombination. Here we present the genome-wide distribution of recombination initiation sites in the mouse genome. Hotspot centres are mapped with approximately 200-nucleotide precision, which allows analysis of the fine structural details of the preferred recombination sites. We determine that hotspots share a centrally distributed consensus motif, possess a nucleotide skew that changes polarity at the centres of hotspots and have an intrinsic preference to be occupied by a nucleosome. Furthermore, we find that the vast majority of recombination initiation sites in mouse males are associated with testis-specific trimethylation of lysine 4 on histone H3 that is distinct from histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation marks associated with transcription. The recombination map presented here has been derived from a homogeneous mouse population with a defined genetic background and therefore lends itself to extensive future experimental exploration. We note that the mapping technique developed here does not depend on the availability of genetic markers and hence can be easily adapted to other species with complex genomes. Our findings uncover several fundamental features of mammalian recombination hotspots and underline the power of the new recombination map for future studies of genetic recombination, genome stability and evolution.
Project description:The SPO11-generated DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that initiate meiotic recombination occur non-randomly across genomes, but mechanisms shaping their distribution and repair remain incompletely understood. Here, we expand on recent studies of nucleotide-resolution DSB maps in mouse spermatocytes. We find that trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 36 around DSB hotspots is highly correlated, both spatially and quantitatively, with trimethylation of H3 lysine 4, consistent with coordinated formation and action of both PRDM9-dependent histone modifications. In contrast, the DSB-responsive kinase ATM contributes independently of PRDM9 to controlling hotspot activity, and combined action of ATM and PRDM9 can explain nearly two-thirds of the variation in DSB frequency between hotspots. DSBs were modestly underrepresented in most repetitive sequences such as segmental duplications and transposons. Nonetheless, numerous DSBs form within repetitive sequences in each meiosis and some classes of repeats are preferentially targeted. Implications of these findings are discussed for evolution of PRDM9 and its role in hybrid strain sterility in mice. Finally, we document the relationship between mouse strain-specific DNA sequence variants within PRDM9 recognition motifs and attendant differences in recombination outcomes. Our results provide further insights into the complex web of factors that influence meiotic recombination patterns.
Project description:Meiotic recombination generates reciprocal exchanges between homologous chromosomes (also called crossovers, COs) that are essential for proper chromosome segregation during meiosis and are a major source of genome diversity by generating new allele combinations. COs have two striking properties: they occur at specific sites, called hotspots, and these sites evolve rapidly. In mammals, the Prdm9 gene, which encodes a meiosis-specific histone H3 methyltransferase, has recently been identified as a determinant of CO hotspots. Here, using transgenic mice, we show that the sole modification of PRDM9 zinc fingers leads to changes in hotspot activity, histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) levels, and chromosome-wide distribution of COs. We further demonstrate by an in vitro assay that the PRDM9 variant associated with hotspot activity binds specifically to DNA sequences located at the center of the three hotspots tested. Remarkably, we show that mutations in cis located at hotspot centers and associated with a decrease of hotspot activity affect PRDM9 binding. Taken together, these results provide the direct demonstration that Prdm9 is a master regulator of hotspot localization through the DNA binding specificity of its zinc finger array and that binding of PRDM9 at hotspots promotes local H3K4me3 enrichment.
Project description:Histone modifications are associated with meiotic recombination hotspots, discrete sites with augmented recombination frequency. For example, trimethylation of histone H3 lysine4 (H3K4me3) marks most hotspots in budding yeast and mouse. Modified histones are known to regulate meiotic recombination partly by promoting DNA double-strand break (DSB) formation at hotspots, but the role and precise landscape of involved modifications remain unclear. Here, we studied hotspot-associated modifications in fission yeast and found general features: acetylation of H3 lysine9 (H3K9ac) is elevated, and H3K4me3 is not significantly enriched. Mutating H3K9 to non-acetylatable alanine mildly reduced levels of the DSB-inducing protein Rec12 (the fission yeast homologue of Spo11) and DSB at hotspots, indicating that H3K9ac may be involved in DSB formation by enhancing the interaction between Rec12 and hotspots. In addition, we found that the lack of the H3K4 methyltransferase Set1 generally increased Rec12 binding to chromatin but partially reduced DSB formation at some loci, suggesting that Set1 is also involved in DSB formation. These results suggest that meiotic DSB formation is redundantly regulated by multiple chromatin-related factors including H3K9ac and Set1 in fission yeast.
Project description:Although present in both humans and chimpanzees, recombination hotspots, at which meiotic crossover events cluster, differ markedly in their genomic location between the species. We report that a 13-base pair sequence motif previously associated with the activity of 40% of human hotspots does not function in chimpanzees and is being removed by self-destructive drive in the human lineage. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the rapidly evolving zinc-finger protein PRDM9 binds to this motif and that sequence changes in the protein may be responsible for hotspot differences between species. The involvement of PRDM9, which causes histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation, implies that there is a common mechanism for recombination hotspots in eukaryotes but raises questions about what forces have driven such rapid change.
Project description:Meiotic recombination initiates with DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) made by Spo11. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, many DSBs occur in "hotspots" coinciding with nucleosome-depleted gene promoters. Transcription factors (TFs) stimulate DSB formation in some hotspots, but TF roles are complex and variable between locations. Until now, available data for TF effects on global DSB patterns were of low spatial resolution and confined to a single TF. Here, we examine at high resolution the contributions of two TFs to genome-wide DSB distributions: Bas1, which was known to regulate DSB activity at some loci, and Ino4, for which some binding sites were known to be within strong DSB hotspots. We examined fine-scale DSB distributions in TF mutant strains by deep sequencing oligonucleotides that remain covalently bound to Spo11 as a byproduct of DSB formation, mapped Bas1 and Ino4 binding sites in meiotic cells, evaluated chromatin structure around DSB hotspots, and measured changes in global messenger RNA levels. Our findings show that binding of these TFs has essentially no predictive power for DSB hotspot activity and definitively support the hypothesis that TF control of DSB numbers is context dependent and frequently indirect. TFs often affected the fine-scale distributions of DSBs within hotspots, and when seen, these effects paralleled effects on local chromatin structure. In contrast, changes in DSB frequencies in hotspots did not correlate with quantitative measures of chromatin accessibility, histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation, or transcript levels. We also ruled out hotspot competition as a major source of indirect TF effects on DSB distributions. Thus, counter to prevailing models, roles of these TFs on DSB hotspot strength cannot be simply explained via chromatin "openness," histone modification, or compensatory interactions between adjacent hotspots.
Project description:Meiotic recombination is the most important source of genetic variation in higher eukaryotes. It is initiated by formation of double-strand breaks (DSBs) in chromosomal DNA in early meiotic prophase. The DSBs are subsequently repaired, resulting in crossovers (COs) and noncrossovers (NCOs). Recombination events are not distributed evenly along chromosomes but cluster at recombination hotspots. How specific sites become hotspots is poorly understood. Studies in yeast and mammals linked initiation of meiotic recombination to active chromatin features present upstream from genes, such as absence of nucleosomes and presence of trimethylation of lysine 4 in histone H3 (H3K4me3). Core recombination components are conserved among eukaryotes, but it is unclear whether this conservation results in universal characteristics of recombination landscapes shared by a wide range of species. To address this question, we mapped meiotic DSBs in maize, a higher eukaryote with a large genome that is rich in repetitive DNA. We found DSBs in maize to be frequent in all chromosome regions, including sites lacking COs, such as centromeres and pericentromeric regions. Furthermore, most DSBs are formed in repetitive DNA, predominantly Gypsy retrotransposons, and only one-quarter of DSB hotspots are near genes. Genic and nongenic hotspots differ in several characteristics, and only genic DSBs contribute to crossover formation. Maize hotspots overlap regions of low nucleosome occupancy but show only limited association with H3K4me3 sites. Overall, maize DSB hotspots exhibit distribution patterns and characteristics not reported previously in other species. Understanding recombination patterns in maize will shed light on mechanisms affecting dynamics of the plant genome.
Project description:Genetic recombination occurs during meiosis, the key developmental programme of gametogenesis. Recombination in mammals has been recently linked to the activity of a histone H3 methyltransferase, PR domain containing 9 (PRDM9), the product of the only known speciation-associated gene in mammals. PRDM9 is thought to determine the preferred recombination sites--recombination hotspots--through sequence-specific binding of its highly polymorphic multi-Zn-finger domain. Nevertheless, Prdm9 knockout mice are proficient at initiating recombination. Here we map and analyse the genome-wide distribution of recombination initiation sites in Prdm9 knockout mice and in two mouse strains with different Prdm9 alleles and their F(1) hybrid. We show that PRDM9 determines the positions of practically all hotspots in the mouse genome, with the exception of the pseudo-autosomal region (PAR)--the only area of the genome that undergoes recombination in 100% of cells. Surprisingly, hotspots are still observed in Prdm9 knockout mice, and as in wild type, these hotspots are found at H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) trimethylation marks. However, in the absence of PRDM9, most recombination is initiated at promoters and at other sites of PRDM9-independent H3K4 trimethylation. Such sites are rarely targeted in wild-type mice, indicating an unexpected role of the PRDM9 protein in sequestering the recombination machinery away from gene-promoter regions and other functional genomic elements.
Project description:PR domain-containing protein 9 (PRDM9) is a major regulator of the localization of meiotic recombination hotspots in the human and mouse genomes. This role involves its DNA-binding domain, which is composed of a tandem array of zinc fingers, and PRDM9-dependent trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 4. PRDM9 is a member of the PRDM family of transcription regulators, but unlike other family members, it contains a Krüppel-associated box (KRAB)-related domain that is predicted to be a potential protein interaction domain. Here, we show that truncation of the KRAB domain of mouse PRDM9 leads to loss of PRDM9 function and altered meiotic prophase and gametogenesis. In addition, we identified proteins that interact with the KRAB domain of PRDM9 in yeast two-hybrid assay screens, particularly CXXC1, a member of the COMPASS complex. We also show that CXXC1 interacts with IHO1, an essential component of the meiotic double-strand break (DSB) machinery. As CXXC1 is orthologous to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Spp1 that links DSB sites to the DSB machinery on the chromosome axis, we propose that these molecular interactions involved in the regulation of meiotic DSB formation are conserved in mouse meiosis.
Project description:Histone modifications are associated with meiotic recombination hotspots, discrete sites with augmented recombination frequency. For example, trimethylation of histone H3 lysine4 (H3K4me3) marks most hotspots in budding yeast and mouse. Modified histones are known to regulate meiotic recombination partly by promoting DNA double strand break (DSB) formation, but the role and precise landscape of histone modifications at hotspots remain unclear. Here, we studied hotspot-associated modifications in fission yeast and found general features: acetylation of H3 lysine9 (H3K9ac) is strikingly elevated, and H3K4me3 is not significantly enriched. Remarkably, elimination of H3K9ac reduced binding of the DSB-inducing enzyme Rec12 and DSB at hotspots. We also found that the H3K4 metyltransferase Set1 promotes DSB formation at some loci, but it restricts Rec12 binding to hotspots. These results suggest that H3K9ac rather than H3K4me3 is a hotspot-associated mark involved in meiotic DSB formation in fission yeast. S.pombe cells in a pat1-114 background were induced to enter meiosis by the haploid meiosis system, and harvested one hour after the induction. ChIP were performed using anti-H3Cter, H3K9ac, -H3K14ac and -H3K4me3 antibodies. pat1-114 rad50S rec12+-FLAG cells in a wild type, H3K9A or set1+ deletion background were induced to enter meiosis by the haploid meiosis system, and harvested five hours after the induction. ChIP were performed using anti-FLAG antibodies.
Project description:In most mammals, including mice and humans, meiotic recombination is determined by the meiosis specific histone methytransferase PRDM9, which binds to specific DNA sequences and trimethylates histone 3 at lysine-4 and lysine-36 at the adjacent nucleosomes. These actions ensure successful DNA double strand break formation and repair that occur on the proteinaceous structure forming the chromosome axis. The process of hotspot association with the axis after their activation by PRDM9 is poorly understood. Previously, we and others have identified CXXC1, an ortholog of S. cerevisiae Spp1 in mammals, as a PRDM9 interactor. In yeast, Spp1 is a histone methyl reader that links H3K4me3 sites with the recombination machinery, promoting DSB formation. Here, we investigated whether CXXC1 has a similar function in mouse meiosis. We created two Cxxc1 conditional knockout mouse models to deplete CXXC1 generally in germ cells, and before the onset of meiosis. Surprisingly, male knockout mice were fertile, and the loss of CXXC1 in spermatocytes had no effect on PRDM9 hotspot trimethylation, double strand break formation or repair. Our results demonstrate that CXXC1 is not an essential link between PRDM9-activated recombination hotspot sites and DSB machinery and that the hotspot recognition pathway in mouse is independent of CXXC1.