Homologous recombination is critical for generating genetic variation in living organisms by exchange and rearrangement of DNA. Most of our knowledge about homologous recombination is limited to processes in bacteria or in eukaryotic nuclei. In E. coli, homologous recombination is dependent on the RecA protein. Higher plant chloroplasts have RecA-like strand exchange activity. However, little is known about these mechanisms in higher plant mitochondria. I have detected a RecA-like strand exchange activity in soybean mitochondria. This activity forms joint molecules in the presence of ATP, Mg2+, and homologous DNA substrates. In addition, the E. coli single-stranded DNA binding (SSB) protein is a non-sequence-specific DNA binding protein that functions as an accessory factor for RecA protein-promoted strand exchange reactions. Our lab has identified an Arabidopsis homologue of E. coli SSB that is targeted to mitochondria (mtSSB). The results of my research shows the mtSSB protein has the same properties as the E. coli SSB protein and it can stimulate the E. coli RecA protein-promoted strand exchange reactions. DNA helicases utilize the energy of ATP to separate the two parental DNA strands at the replicating fork or during recombinational strand exchange. Although higher plant chloroplast helicase activity has been reported, no such activity has heretofore been identified in higher plant mitochondria. We report the characterization of a plant mitochondrial DNA helicase isolated from soybean leaves. ATP is required for this enzyme and this enzyme poorly utilizes any other NTPs or dNTPs. The enzyme requires Mg2+ for activity. This enzyme only has 3' to 5'unwinding activity. The optimal conditions for mitochondrial DNA helicase are 2 mM ATP, 8 to 10 mM Mg2+,100 to 200 mM NaCl and 37-42 oC incubation for one hour or longer time.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





strand exchange, helicase, plant mitochondria



Included in

Microbiology Commons