Expression and functional analysis of AtMUS81 in Arabidopsis meiosis reveals a role in the second pathway of crossing-over.

James Higgins, EF Buckling, Frederick Franklin, Gareth Jones

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89 Citations (Scopus)


Meiotic crossovers/chiasmata, that are required to ensure chromosome disjunction, arise via the class I interference-dependent pathway or via the class II interference-free pathway. The proportions of these two classes vary considerably between different organisms. In Arabidopsis, about 85% of chiasmata are eliminated in Atmsh4 mutants, denoting that these are class I events. In budding and fission yeasts Msh4-independent crossovers arise largely or entirely via a Mus81-dependent pathway. To investigate the origins of the 15% residual (AtMSH4-independent) chiasmata in Arabidopsis we conducted a cytological and molecular analysis of AtMUS81 meiotic expression and function. Although AtMUS81 functions in somatic DNA repair and recombination, it is more highly expressed in reproductive tissues. The protein is abundantly present in early prophase I meiocytes, where it co-localizes, in a double-strand break-dependent manner, with the recombination protein AtRAD51. Despite this, an Atmus81 mutant shows normal growth and has no obvious defects in reproductive development that would indicate meiotic impairment. A cytological analysis confirmed that meiosis was apparently normal in this mutant and its mean chiasma frequency was similar to that of wild-type plants. However, an Atmsh4/Atmus81 double mutant revealed a significantly reduced mean chiasma frequency (0.85 per cell), compared with an Atmsh4 single mutant (1.25 per cell), from which we conclude that AtMUS81 accounts for some, but not all, of the 15% AtMSH4-independent residual crossovers. It is possible that other genes are responsible for these residual chiasmata. Alternatively the AtMUS81 pathway coexists with an alternative parallel pathway that can perform the same functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-62
Number of pages11
JournalThe Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008


  • expression
  • meiosis
  • recombination
  • chiasmata
  • MUS81
  • arabidopsis


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