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Biochem Soc Trans. 2009 Jun;37(Pt 3):519-26. doi: 10.1042/BST0370519.

The search for a human Holliday junction resolvase.

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  • 1London Research Institute, Clare Hall Laboratories, Cancer Research UK, South Mimms, Hertfordshire, UK.


Four-way DNA intermediates, known as Holliday junctions, are formed during mitotic and meiotic recombination, and their efficient resolution is essential for proper chromosome segregation. Bacteria, bacteriophages and archaea promote Holliday junction resolution by the introduction of symmetrically related nicks across the junction, in reactions mediated by Holliday junction resolvases. In 2008, after a search that lasted almost 20 years, a Holliday junction resolvase was identified in humans. The protein, GEN1, was identified using MS following the brute-force fractionation of extracts prepared from human cells grown in tissue culture. GEN1 fits the paradigm developed from studies of prokaryotic Holliday junction resolvases, in that it specifically recognizes junctions and resolves them using a mechanism similar to that exhibited by the Escherichia coli RuvC protein.

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