A DNA topoisomerase VI-like complex initiates meiotic recombination

Science. 2016 Feb 26;351(6276):939-43. doi: 10.1126/science.aad5196.


The SPO11 protein catalyzes the formation of meiotic DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and is homologous to the A subunit of an archaeal topoisomerase (topo VI). Topo VI are heterotetrameric enzymes comprising two A and two B subunits; however, no topo VIB involved in meiotic recombination had been identified. We characterized a structural homolog of the archaeal topo VIB subunit [meiotic topoisomerase VIB-like (MTOPVIB)], which is essential for meiotic DSB formation. It forms a complex with the two Arabidopsis thaliana SPO11 orthologs required for meiotic DSB formation (SPO11-1 and SPO11-2) and is absolutely required for the formation of the SPO11-1/SPO11-2 heterodimer. These findings suggest that the catalytic core complex responsible for meiotic DSB formation in eukaryotes adopts a topo VI-like structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry*
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Catalysis
  • Catalytic Domain
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • DNA Topoisomerases / chemistry
  • DNA Topoisomerases / genetics
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II / chemistry*
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II / genetics
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases / chemistry*
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases / genetics
  • Homologous Recombination*
  • Meiosis / genetics*
  • Methanosarcina / enzymology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structural Homology, Protein
  • Sulfolobus / enzymology*
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Spo11-1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases
  • meiotic recombination protein SPO11
  • DNA Topoisomerases
  • DNA topoisomerase VI
  • SPO11-2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II