A Genome-Wide Map of Mitochondrial DNA Recombination in Yeast
Emilie S. Fritsch, Christophe D. Chabbert, Bernd Klaus, Lars M. Steinmetz


In eukaryotic cells, the production of cellular energy requires close interplay between nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. Mitochondrial genome is essential in that it encodes several genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation. Each cell contains several mitochondrial genome copies and mitochondrial DNA recombination is a widespread process occurring in plants, fungi, protists or invertebrates. Saccharomyces cerevisiae has proven to be an excellent model to dissect mitochondrial biology. Several studies have focused on DNA recombination in this organelle, yet mostly relied on reporter genes or artificial systems. However, no complete mitochondrial recombination map has been released for any eukaryote so far. In the present work, we sequenced pools of diploids originating from a cross between two different Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains to detect recombination events. This strategy allowed us to generate the first genome-wide map of recombination for yeast mitochondrial DNA. We demonstrated that recombination events are enriched in specific hotspots preferentially localized in non-protein coding regions. Additionally, comparison of the recombination profiles of two different crosses showed that the genetic background impacts hotspots localization and recombination rates. Finally, to gain insights into the mechanisms involved in mitochondrial recombination, we assessed the impact of individual depletion of four genes previously associated with this process. Deletion of NTG1 and MGT1 did not substantially influence the recombination landscape, alluding to the potential presence of additional regulatory factors. Our findings also revealed the loss of large mitochondrial DNA regions in the absence of MHR1, suggesting a pivotal role for Mhr1 in mitochondrial genome maintenance during mating. This study provides a comprehensive overview of mitochondrial DNA recombination in yeast and thus paves the way for future mechanistic studies of mitochondrial recombination and genome maintenance.

  • Received May 27, 2014.
  • Accepted July 25, 2014.