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Mutat Res. 2012 Aug 1;736(1-2):15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2011.06.002. Epub 2011 Jun 13.

RecQ helicases in DNA double strand break repair and telomere maintenance.

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  • 1National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Organisms are constantly exposed to various environmental insults which could adversely affect the stability of their genome. To protect their genomes against the harmful effect of these environmental insults, organisms have evolved highly diverse and efficient repair mechanisms. Defective DNA repair processes can lead to various kinds of chromosomal and developmental abnormalities. RecQ helicases are a family of evolutionarily conserved, DNA unwinding proteins which are actively engaged in various DNA metabolic processes, telomere maintenance and genome stability. Bacteria and lower eukaryotes, like yeast, have only one RecQ homolog, whereas higher eukaryotes including humans possess multiple RecQ helicases. These multiple RecQ helicases have redundant and/or non-redundant functions depending on the types of DNA damage and DNA repair pathways. Humans have five different RecQ helicases and defects in three of them cause autosomal recessive diseases leading to various kinds of cancer predisposition and/or aging phenotypes. Emerging evidence also suggests that the RecQ helicases have important roles in telomere maintenance. This review mainly focuses on recent knowledge about the roles of RecQ helicases in DNA double strand break repair and telomere maintenance which are important in preserving genome integrity.

Published by Elsevier B.V.

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