It is known that mutations in gene SIR2 increase and those in FOB1 decrease recombination within rDNA repeats as assayed by marker loss or extrachromosomal rDNA circle formation. SIR2-dependent chromatin structures have been thought to inhibit access and/or function of recombination machinery in rDNA. We measured the frequency of FOB1-dependent arrest of replication forks, consequent DNA double-strand breaks, and formation of DNA molecules with Holliday junction structures, and found no significant difference between sir2Delta and SIR2 strains. Formal genetic experiments measuring mitotic recombination rates within individual rRNA genes also showed no significant difference between these two strains. Instead, we found a significant decrease in the association of cohesin subunit Mcd1p (Scc1p) to rDNA in sir2Delta relative to SIR2 strains. From these and other experiments, we conclude that SIR2 prevents unequal sister-chromatid recombination, probably by forming special cohesin structures, without significant effects on recombinational events within individual rRNA genes.
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