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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004 Jan 29;359(1441):87-93.

RAD51 localization and activation following DNA damage.

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  • 1Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Clare Hall Laboratories, South Mimms EN6 3LD, UK.


The efficient repair of double-strand breaks in DNA is critical for the maintenance of genome stability. In response to ionizing radiation and other DNA-damaging agents, the RAD51 protein, which is essential for homologous recombination, relocalizes within the nucleus to form distinct foci that can be visualized by microscopy and are thought to represent sites where repair reactions take place. The formation of RAD51 foci in response to DNA damage is dependent upon BRCA2 and a series of proteins known as the RAD51 paralogues (RAD51B, RAD51C, RAD51D, XRCC2 and XRCC3), indicating that the components present within foci assemble in a carefully orchestrated and ordered manner. By contrast, RAD51 foci that form spontaneously as cells undergo DNA replication at S phase occur without the need for BRCA2 or the RAD51 paralogues. It is known that BRCA2 interacts directly with RAD51 through a series of degenerative motifs known as the BRC repeats. These interactions modulate the ability of RAD51 to bind DNA. Taken together, these observations indicate that BRCA2 plays a critical role in controlling the actions of RAD51 at both the microscopic (focus formation) and molecular (DNA binding) level.

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