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Genetica. 2003 Jul;118(2-3):245-9.

Molecular mechanisms of exon shuffling: illegitimate recombination.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University Medical Center Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Illegitimate recombination (IR) is a process that takes place far more often than homologous recombination and is characterized by the recombination between non-homologous or short homologous sequences. The consequences of IR frequently emerge after the introduction of DNA in cell lines because it more frequently integrates in non-homologous than in homologous regions of the host genome. As a result, unexpected truncated or elongated products may be found. By not discarding those products as transfection artifacts, but by studying how they are generated, it might elucidate a possible molecular mechanism of IR. Here we review the current literature describing different mechanisms by which non-homologous DNA recombination can be induced.

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