MEIOSIS: A DNA topoisomerase VI-like complex initiates meiotic recombination

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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 twoArabidopsis thalianaSPO11 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.

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