Increased chromosome mobility facilitates homology search during recombination

Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Apr 8;14(5):510-7. doi: 10.1038/ncb2472.


Homologous recombination, an essential process for preserving genomic integrity, uses intact homologous sequences to repair broken chromosomes. To explore the mechanism of homologous pairing in vivo, we tagged two homologous loci in diploid yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells and investigated their dynamic organization in the absence and presence of DNA damage. When neither locus is damaged, homologous loci occupy largely separate regions, exploring only 2.7% of the nuclear volume. Following the induction of a double-strand break, homologous loci co-localize ten times more often. The mobility of the cut chromosome markedly increases, allowing it to explore a nuclear volume that is more than ten times larger. Interestingly, the mobility of uncut chromosomes also increases, allowing them to explore a four times larger volume. We propose a model for homology search in which increased chromosome mobility facilitates homologous pairing. Finally, we find that the increase in DNA dynamics is dependent on early steps of homologous recombination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Fungal*
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • Gamma Rays
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics


  • DNA, Fungal