The conserved MRE11-RAD50-NBS1/Xrs2 complex is crucial for DNA break metabolism and genome maintenance. Although hypomorphic Rad50 mutation mice showed normal meiosis, both null and hypomorphic rad50 mutation yeast displayed impaired meiosis recombination. However, the in vivo function of Rad50 in mammalian germ cells, particularly its in vivo role in the resection of meiotic double strand break (DSB) ends at the molecular level remains elusive. Here, we have established germ cell-specific Rad50 knockout mouse models to determine the role of Rad50 in mitosis and meiosis of mammalian germ cells. We find that Rad50-deficient spermatocytes exhibit defective meiotic recombination and abnormal synapsis. Mechanistically, using END-seq, we demonstrate reduced DSB formation and abnormal DSB end resection occurs in mutant spermatocytes. We further identify that deletion of Rad50 in gonocytes leads to complete loss of spermatogonial stem cells due to genotoxic stress. Taken together, our results reveal the essential role of Rad50 in mammalian germ cell meiosis and mitosis, and provide in vivo views of RAD50 function in meiotic DSB formation and end resection at the molecular level.

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