Budding yeast Pch2 protein is a widely conserved meiosis-specific protein whose role is implicated in the control of formation and displacement of meiotic crossover events. In contrast to previous studies where the function of Pch2 was implicated in the steps after meiotic double-strand breaks (DSBs) are formed, we present evidence that Pch2 is involved in meiotic DSB formation, the initiation step of meiotic recombination. The reduction of DSB formation caused by the pch2 mutation is most prominent in the sae2 mutant background, whereas the impact remains mild in the rad51 dmc1 double mutant background. The DSB reduction is further pronounced when pch2 is combined with a hypomorphic allele of SPO11. Interestingly, the level of DSB reduction is highly variable between chromosomes, with minimal impact on small chromosomes VI and III. We propose a model in which Pch2 ensures efficient formation of meiotic DSBs which is necessary for igniting the subsequent meiotic checkpoint responses that lead to proper differentiation of meiotic recombinants.
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