Gene-conversion tract directionality is influenced by the chromosome environment

Curr Genet. 1998 Oct;34(4):269-79. doi: 10.1007/s002940050396.


Spontaneous and double-strand break (DSB)-induced gene conversion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae was assayed using non-tandem chromosomal direct repeat crosses and plasmid x chromosome crosses. Each cross involved identical ura3 alleles marked with phenotypically silent restriction fragment length polymorphic (RFLP) mutations at approximately 100-bp intervals. DSBs introduced in vivo at HO sites in one allele stimulated recombination to Ura+ by more than two orders of magnitude. Spontaneous gene-conversion products were isolated from a related strain lacking a functional HO nuclease gene. The multiple markers did not appear to influence the frequency of direct repeat deletions for spontaneous or DSB-induced events. DSB-induced conversion reflected efficient mismatch repair of heteroduplex DNA. Conversion frequencies of equidistant markers on opposites sides of the DSB were similar in the direct repeat cross. In contrast, markers 5' of the DSB (promoter-proximal) converted more often than 3' markers in plasmid x chromosome crosses, a possible consequence of crossing-over associated with long conversion tracts. With direct repeats, bidirectional tracts (extending 5' and 3' of the DSB) occurred twice as often as in a plasmid x chromosome cross in which DSBs were introduced into the plasmid-borne allele. A key difference between the direct-repeat and plasmidxchromosome crosses is that the ends of a broken plasmid are linked, whereas the ends of a broken chromosome are unlinked. We tested whether linkage of ends influenced tract directionality using a second plasmid x chromosome cross in which DSBs were introduced into the chromosomal allele and found few bidirectional tracts. Thus, chromosome environment, but not linkage of ends, influences tract directionality. The similar tract spectra of the two plasmid x chromosome crosses suggest that similar mechanisms are involved whether recombination is initiated by DSBs in plasmid or chromosomal alleles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • DNA