Role of chromatin remodeling complex SWR1 in meiosis and DNA repair

Newly published in Plant Cell, this paper from the Mittelsten Scheid Lab examines the role of the chromatin remodeling complex SWR1, which deposits histone H2A.Z. Multiple independent mutants affecting SWR1 complex subunits accumulate DNA damage, and have impaired somatic homologous recombination, reduced fertility and irregular gametogenesis, indicating key functions of this complex during DNA repair and meiosis.

Original Publication

Rosa M, Von Harder M, Cigliano RA, Schl√∂gelhofer P, Mittelsten Scheid O (2013) The Arabidopsis SWR1 Chromatin-Remodeling Complex Is Important for DNA Repair, Somatic Recombination, and Meiosis. Plant Cell, June tpc.112.104067.


All processes requiring interaction with DNA are attuned to occur within the context of the complex chromatin structure. As it does for programmed transcription and replication, this also holds true for unscheduled events, such as repair of DNA damage. Lesions such as double-strand breaks occur randomly; their repair requires that enzyme complexes access DNA at potentially any genomic site. This is achieved by chromatin remodeling factors that can locally slide, evict, or change nucleosomes. Here, we show that the Swi2/Snf2-related (SWR1 complex), known to deposit histone H2A.Z, is also important for DNA repair in Arabidopsis thaliana. Mutations in genes for Arabidopsis SWR1 complex subunits PHOTOPERIOD-INDEPENDENT EARLY FLOWERING1, ACTIN-RELATED PROTEIN6, and SWR1 COMPLEX6 cause hypersensitivity to various DNA damaging agents. Even without additional genotoxic stress, these mutants show symptoms of DNA damage accumulation. The reduced DNA repair capacity is connected with impaired somatic homologous recombination, in contrast with the hyper-recombinogenic phenotype of yeast SWR1 mutants. This suggests functional diversification between lower and higher eukaryotes. Finally, reduced fertility and irregular gametogenesis in the Arabidopsis SWR1 mutants indicate an additional role for the chromatin-remodeling complex during meiosis. These results provide evidence for the importance of Arabidopsis SWR1 in somatic DNA repair and duringmeiosis.