Ku80 plays a role in non-homologous recombination but is not required for T-DNA integration in Arabidopsis


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Chromosomal breaks are repaired by homologous recombination (HR) or non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) mechanisms. The Ku70/Ku80 heterodimer binds DNA ends and plays roles in NHEJ and telomere maintenance in organisms ranging from yeast to humans. We have previously identified a ku80 mutant of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and shown the role of Ku80 in telomere homeostasis in plant cells. We show here that this mutant is hypersensitive to the DNA-damaging agent methyl methane sulphonate and has a reduced capacity to carry out NHEJ recombination. To understand the interplay between HR and NHEJ in plants, we measured HR in the absence of Ku80. We find that the frequency of intrachromosomal HR is not affected by the absence of Ku80. Previous work has clearly implicated the Ku heterodimer in Agrobacterium-mediated T-DNA transformation of yeast. Surprisingly, ku80 mutant plants show no defect in the efficiency of T-DNA transformation of plants with Agrobacterium, showing that an alternative pathway must exist in plants.