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Chk2 and p53 regulate the transmission of healed chromosomes in the Drosophila male germline.

Authors: Simon W A SW. Titen, Ho-Chen HC. Lin, Jayaram J. Bhandari, Kent G KG. Golic
Published: 02/27/2014, PLoS genetics


When a dicentric chromosome breaks in mitosis, the broken ends cannot be repaired by normal mechanisms that join two broken ends since each end is in a separate daughter cell. However, in the male germline of Drosophila melanogaster, a broken end may be healed by de novo telomere addition. We find that Chk2 (encoded by lok) and P53, major mediators of the DNA damage response, have strong and opposite influences on the transmission of broken-and-healed chromosomes: lok mutants exhibit a large increase in the recovery of healed chromosomes relative to wildtype control males, but p53 mutants show a strong reduction. This contrasts with the soma, where mutations in lok and p53 have the nearly identical effect of allowing survival and proliferation of cells with irreparable DNA damage. Examination of testes revealed a transient depletion of germline cells after dicentric chromosome induction in the wildtype controls, and further showed that P53 is required for the germline to recover. Although lok mutant males transmit healed chromosomes at a high rate, broken chromosome ends can also persist through spermatogonial divisions without healing in lok mutants, giving rise to frequent dicentric bridges in Meiosis II. Cytological and genetic analyses show that spermatid nuclei derived from such meiotic divisions are eliminated during spermiogenesis, resulting in strong meiotic drive. We conclude that the primary responsibility for maintaining genome integrity in the male germline lies with Chk2, and that P53 is required to reconstitute the germline when cells are eliminated owing to unrepaired DNA damage.

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