Holliday junction resolvases mediate chloroplast nucleoid segregation

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Science  12 May 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6338, pp. 631-634
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0038

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Resolution achieved

Chloroplasts possess multiple copies of their own chloroplast DNA that are packaged into DNA-protein complexes known as nucleoids. The shape, number, and distribution of chloroplast nucleoids change markedly depending on the cell cycle, developmental stage, and nutritional environment. Kobayashi et al. identified Holliday junction resolvase as a key factor in the dynamism of chloroplast nucleoids in the unicellular green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The gene encoding the resolvase is ubiquitously conserved among green plants. Disruption or down-regulation of this gene also disturbed chloroplast nucleoid organization and segregation in the land plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Science, this issue p. 631


Holliday junctions, four-stranded DNA structures formed during homologous recombination, are disentangled by resolvases that have been found in prokaryotes and eukaryotes but not in plant organelles. Here, we identify monokaryotic chloroplast 1 (MOC1) as a Holliday junction resolvase in chloroplasts by analyzing a green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutant defective in chloroplast nucleoid (DNA-protein complex) segregation. MOC1 is structurally similar to a bacterial Holliday junction resolvase, resistance to ultraviolet (Ruv) C, and genetically conserved among green plants. Reduced or no expression of MOC1 in Arabidopsis thaliana leads to growth defects and aberrant chloroplast nucleoid segregation. In vitro biochemical analysis and high-speed atomic force microscopic analysis revealed that A. thaliana MOC 1 (AtMOC1) binds and cleaves the core of Holliday junctions symmetrically. MOC1 may mediate chloroplast nucleoid segregation in green plants by resolving Holliday junctions.

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