SUMMARY: Rad51, a conserved eukaryotic protein, mediates the homologous-recombination repair of DNA double-strand breaks that occur during both mitosis and meiosis. During prophase I of meiosis, homologous recombination enhances the linkage between homologous chromosomes to increase the accuracy of segregation at anaphase I. In polyploidy situations, however, difficulties with homologous chromosome segregation often disrupt meiosis. Yet, triploid individuals of the planarian Dugesia ryukyuensis are able to produce functional gametes through a specialized form of meiosis. To shed light on the molecular mechanisms that promote successful meiosis in triploid D. ryukyuensis, we investigated rad51 gene function. We isolated three genes of the Rad51 family, the Rad51 homolog Dr-rad51 and the Rad51 paralogs Dr-rad51B and Dr-rad51C. Dr-rad51 was expressed in germ-line and presumably in somatic stem cells, but was not necessary for the regeneration of somatic tissue. RNA-interference (RNAi) depletion of Dr-rad51 during sexualization did not affect chromosome behavior in zygotene oocytes, but did result in the loss of chiasmata at the diplotene stage. Thus, homologous recombination does not appear to be necessary for synapsis, but is needed for crossover and proper segregation in D. ryukyuensis.
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