Mre11 deficiency in Arabidopsis is associated with chromosomal instability in somatic cells and Spo11-dependent genome fragmentation during meiosis
The Mre11/Rad50/Nbs1 complex is involved in many aspects of chromosome metabolism. Aberrant function of the complex is associated with defects in the DNA checkpoint, double-strand break repair, meiosis, and telomere maintenance. In this article, we report the consequences of Well dysfunction for the stability of mitotic and meiotic chromosomes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Although plants homozygous for a T-DNA insertion in a conserved region of the MRE11 gene are viable, they exhibit growth defects and are infertile. Analysis of mitotic chromosomes prepared from the mutant plants revealed abundant dicentric chromosomes and chromosomal fragments. Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that anaphase bridges are often formed by homologous chromosome arms. The frequency of chromosome fusions was not reduced in mre11ku70 double mutants, suggesting that plants possess DNA end-joining activities independent of the Ku70/80 and Mre11 complexes. Cytogenetic examination of pollen mother cells revealed massive chromosome fragmentation and the absence of synapsis in the initial stages of meiosis. The fragmentation was substantially suppressed in mre11 spo11-1 double mutants, indicating that Well is required for repair but not for the induction of Spo11-dependent meiotic DNA breaks in Arabidopsis.