2014 Volume 89 Issue 4 Pages 169-179
Green fluorescent protein (GFP), fused to the N or C terminus of a protein of interest, is widely used to monitor the localization and mobility of proteins in cells. RAD51 is an essential protein that functions in mitotic DNA repair and meiotic chromosome segregation by promoting the homologous recombination reaction. A previous genetic study with Arabidopsis thaliana revealed that GFP fused to the C terminus of RAD51 (RAD51-GFP) inhibits mitotic DNA repair, but meiotic homologous recombination remained unaffected. To determine how the C-terminal GFP specifically inhibits mitotic DNA repair by RAD51, we purified rice RAD51A1-GFP and RAD51A2-GFP, and performed biochemical analyses. Interestingly, purified RAD51A1-GFP and RAD51A2-GFP are proficient in DNA binding and ATP hydrolysis. However, nucleoprotein complexes containing single-stranded DNA and RAD51A1-GFP or RAD51A2-GFP are significantly defective in binding to the second DNA molecule (secondary DNA binding), and consequently fail to catalyze homologous pairing. In contrast, RAD51A1-GFP and RAD51A2-GFP efficiently stimulated homologous pairing promoted by the meiosis-specific RAD51 isoform DMC1. These biochemical characteristics are well conserved in human RAD51-GFP. Therefore, GFP fused to the C terminus of RAD51 abolishes the homologous pairing activity of RAD51 by disrupting secondary DNA binding, but does not affect its DMC1-stimulating activity.