In eukaryotes, DNA strand exchange is the central reaction of homologous recombination, which is promoted by Rad51 recombinases forming a right-handed nucleoprotein filament on single-stranded DNA, also known as a presynaptic filament. Accessory proteins known as recombination mediators are required for the formation of the active presynaptic filament. One such mediator in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is the Swi5-Sfr1 complex, which has been identified as an activator of Rad51 that assists in presynaptic filament formation and stimulates its strand exchange reaction. Here, we determined the 1:1 binding stoichiometry between the two subunits of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex using analytical ultracentrifugation and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Small-angle x-ray scattering experiments revealed that the Swi5-Sfr1 complex displays an extremely elongated dogleg-shaped structure in solution, which is consistent with its exceptionally high frictional ratio (f/f 0) of 2.0 ± 0.2 obtained by analytical ultracentrifugation. Furthermore, we determined a rough topology of the complex by comparing the small-angle x-ray scattering-based structures of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex and four Swi5-Sfr1-Fab complexes, in which the Fab fragments of monoclonal antibodies were specifically bound to experimentally determined sites of Sfr1. We propose a model for how the Swi5-Sfr1 complex binds to the Rad51 filament, in which the Swi5-Sfr1 complex fits into the groove of the Rad51 filament, leading to an active and stable presynaptic filament.
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