Mitotic and Meiotic Functions for the SUMOylation Pathway in the Caenorhabditis elegans Germline.

PMID 29472245


Meiosis is a highly regulated process, partly due to the need to break and then repair DNA as part of the meiotic program. Post-translational modifications are widely used during meiotic events to regulate steps such as protein complex formation, checkpoint activation, and protein attenuation. In this paper, we investigate how proteins that are obligatory components of the SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) pathway, one such post-translational modification, affect the Caenorhabditis elegans germline. We show that UBC-9, the E2 conjugation enzyme, and the C. elegans homolog of SUMO, SMO-1, localize to germline nuclei throughout prophase I. Mutant analysis of smo-1 and ubc-9 revealed increased recombination intermediates throughout the germline, originating during the mitotic divisions. SUMOylation mutants also showed late meiotic defects including defects in the restructuring of oocyte bivalents and endomitotic oocytes. Increased rates of noninterfering crossovers were observed in ubc-9 heterozygotes, even though interfering crossovers were unaffected. We have also identified a physical interaction between UBC-9 and DNA repair protein MRE-11 ubc-9 and mre-11 null mutants exhibited similar phenotypes at germline mitotic nuclei and were synthetically sick. These phenotypes and genetic interactions were specific to MRE-11 null mutants as opposed to RAD-50 or resection-defective MRE-11 We propose that the SUMOylation pathway acts redundantly with MRE-11, and in this process MRE-11 likely plays a structural role.