In meiosis, homologous recombination preferentially occurs between homologous chromosomes rather than between sister chromatids, which is opposite to the bias of mitotic recombinational repair. The TBPIP/HOP2 protein is a factor that ensures the proper pairing of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. In the present study, we found that the purified mouse TBPIP/HOP2 protein stimulated homologous pairing catalyzed by the meiotic DMC1 recombinase in vitro. In contrast, TBPIP/HOP2 did not stimulate homologous pairing by RAD51, which is another homologous pairing protein acting in both meiotic and mitotic recombination. The positive effect of TBPIP/HOP2 in the DMC1-mediated homologous pairing was only observed when TBPIP/HOP2 first binds to double-stranded DNA, not to single-stranded DNA, before the initiation of the homologous pairing reaction. Deletion analyses revealed that the C-terminal basic region of TBPIP/HOP2 is required for efficient DNA binding and is also essential for its homologous pairing stimulation activity. Therefore, these results suggest that TBPIP/HOP2 directly binds to DNA and functions as an activator for DMC1 during the homologous pairing step in meiosis.
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