The resection of 5'-DNA ends at a double-strand break (DSB) is an essential step in recombinational repair, as it exposes 3' single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) tails for interaction with a repair template. In mitosis, Exo1 and Sgs1 have a conserved function in the formation of long ssDNA tails, whereas this step in the processing of programmed meiotic DSBs is less well-characterized across model organisms. In budding yeast, which has been most intensely studied in this respect, Exo1 is a major meiotic nuclease. In addition, it exerts a nuclease-independent function later in meiosis in the conversion of DNA joint molecules into ZMM-dependent crossovers. In order to gain insight into the diverse meiotic roles of Exo1, we investigated the effect of Exo1 deletion in the ciliated protist Tetrahymena. We found that Exo1 together with Mre11, but without the help of Sgs1, promotes meiotic DSB end resection. Resection is completely eliminated only if both Mre11 and Exo1 are missing. This is consistent with the yeast model where Mre11 promotes resection in the 3'-5' direction and Exo1 in the opposite 5'-3' direction. However, while the endonuclease activity of Mre11 is essential to create an entry site for exonucleases and hence to start resection in budding yeast, Tetrahymena Exo1 is able to create single-stranded DNA in the absence of Mre11. Excluding a possible contribution of the Mre11 cofactor Sae2 (Com1) as an autonomous endonuclease, we conclude that there exists another unknown nuclease that initiates DSB processing in Tetrahymena. Consistent with the absence of the ZMM crossover pathway in Tetrahymena, crossover formation is independent of Exo1.
Keywords: Crossover; DNA double-strand break; Meiosis; Recombination.
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