Rad54 protein is a Snf2-like ATPase with a specialized function in the recombinational repair of DNA damage. Rad54 is thought to stimulate the search of homology via formation of a specific complex with the presynaptic Rad51 filament on single-stranded DNA. Herein, we address the interaction of Rad54 with Rad51 filaments on double-stranded (ds) DNA, an intermediate in DNA strand exchange with unclear functional significance. We show that Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad54 exerts distinct modes of ATPase activity on partially and fully saturated filaments of Rad51 protein on dsDNA. The highest ATPase activity is observed on dsDNA containing short patches of yeast Rad51 filaments resulting in a 6-fold increase compared with protein-free DNA. This enhanced ATPase mode of yeast Rad54 can also be elicited by partial filaments of human Rad51 protein but to a lesser extent. In contrast, the interaction of Rad54 protein with duplex DNA fully covered with Rad51 is entirely species-specific. When yeast Rad51 fully covers dsDNA, Rad54 protein hydrolyzes ATP in a reduced mode at 60-80% of its rate on protein-free DNA. Instead, saturated filaments with human Rad51 fail to support the yeast Rad54 ATPase. We suggest that the interaction of Rad54 with dsDNA-Rad51 complexes is of functional importance in homologous recombination.
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