The chromatin assembly factor subunit FASCIATA1 is involved in homologous recombination in plants.
Histone chaperone Asf1 participates in heterochromatin silencing, DNA repair and regulation of gene expression, and promotes the assembly of DNA into chromatin in vitro. To determine the influence of Asf1 on genetic stability, we have analysed the effect of asf1Delta on homologous recombination. In accordance with a defect in nucleosome assembly, asf1Delta leads to a loss of negative supercoiling in plasmids. Importantly, asf1Delta increases spontaneous recombination between inverted DNA sequences. This increase correlates with an accumulation of double-strand breaks (DSBs) as determined by immunodetection of phosphorylated histone H2A and fluorescent detection of Rad52-YFP foci during S and G2/M phases. In addition, asf1Delta shows high levels of sister chromatid exchange (SCE) and is proficient in DSB-induced SCE as determined by physical analysis. Our results suggest that defective chromatin assembly caused by asf1Delta leads to DSBs that can be repaired by SCE, affecting genetic stability.