Abstract Background RAD51 proteins, which are conserved in all eukaryotes, repair DNA double-strand breaks. This is critical to homologous chromosome pairing and recombination enabling successful reproduction. Work in Arabidopsis suggests that RAD51 also plays a role in plant defense; the Arabidopsis rad51 mutant is more susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae. However, the defense functions of RAD51 and the proteins interacting with RAD51 have not been thoroughly investigated in maize. Uncovering ligands of RAD51 would help to understand meiotic recombination and possibly the role of RAD51 in defense. This study used phage display, a tool for discovery of protein-protein interactions, to search for proteins interacting with maize RAD51A1. Results Maize RAD51A1 was screened against a random phage library. Eleven short peptide sequences were recovered from 15 phages which bound ZmRAD51A1 in vitro; three sequences were found in multiple successfully binding phages. Nine of these phage interactions were verified in vitro through ELISA and/or dot blotting. BLAST searches did not reveal any maize proteins which contained the exact sequence of any of the selected phage peptides, although one of the selected phages had a strong alignment (E-value = 0.079) to a binding domain of maize BRCA2. Therefore, we designed 32 additional short peptides using amino acid sequences found in the predicted maize proteome. These peptides were not contained within phages. Of these synthesized peptides, 14 bound to ZmRAD51A1 in a dot blot experiment. These 14 sequences are found in known maize proteins including transcription factors putatively involved in defense. Conclusions These results reveal several peptides which bind ZmRAD51A1 and support a potential role for ZmRAD51A1 in transcriptional regulation and plant defense. This study also demonstrates the applicability of phage display to basic science questions, such as the search for binding partners of a known protein, and raises the possibility of an iterated approach to test peptide sequences that closely but imperfectly align with the selected phages.
|Date made available||2022|