Genomic analysis of RecA-DNA interactions during double-strand break repair in escherichia coli
Cockram, Charlotte Anne
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Maintaining genomic integrity is crucial for cell survival. In Escherichia coli, Rec-Amediated homologous recombination (HR) plays an essential role in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) and the SOS response through a series of highly dynamic interactions with the chromosome. A greater understanding of the mechanism of homologous recombination requires quantitative analysis of genomic studies in live cells. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the dynamics of the RecA-DNA interactions in vivo following the induction of a site-specific DSB in the chromosome of E. coli. This DSB is caused by the cleavage of a DNA hairpin by the hairpin-specific endonuclease, SbcCD. The DNA hairpin is formed only on the lagging strand template of replication by a 246 bp-interrupted palindrome. As a result cleavage only occurs on one sister chromosome, leaving one unbroken chromosome to serve as a template for repair by HR. Here, this system has been used as a basis to develop a method that combines chromatin immunoprecipitation with quantitative PCR (ChIP-qPCR) and next-generation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) to quantify RecA protein binding during the active repair of a single chromosomal DSB. This study reports that DSB-dependent RecA binding is stimulated in response to the eight base DNA sequence Chi (5’-GCTGGTGG-3’). Increasing the number of Chi sites close to the DSB stimulates more RecA loading to DNA, with ChIP-Seq analysis also revealing a role for subsequent Chi sites in RecA binding during DSBR. If the Chi sites close to the DSB are removed then Chi-dependent RecA binding to DNA can be observed at distances greater than 100 kb from the DSB, suggesting that these subsequent Chi sites can be engaged in DSBR. Through collaboration, these in vivo data were combined with stochastic modeling to determine that, in vivo, Chi is recognised by the RecBCD complex with an efficiency of 20- 35%. The genomic analysis also revealed two unexpected aspects of RecA protein binding. First, ChIP-Seq analyses identified that following a DSB at lacZ there is RecA enrichment detected in the terminus region of the E. coli chromosome. This RecA binding is Chi-dependent, indicating a role for HR. Second, DSB-independent binding was observed at the RNA encoding genes dispersed throughout the chromosome. A temporal analysis of RecA dynamics was also performed. These analyses revealed that RecA binding to DNA near the DSB is extremely dynamic, cycling between periods of high RecA enrichment and periods of low RecA enrichment. This is the first in vivo study of DSB-dependent RecA-DNA distribution and dynamics in recombination proficient E. coli cells.