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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jul 17;98(15):8433-9.

The synaptic activity of HsDmc1, a human recombination protein specific to meiosis.

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  • 1Departments of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8005, USA.


Human Dmc1 protein, a meiosis-specific homolog of Escherichia coli RecA protein, has previously been shown to promote DNA homologous pairing and strand-exchange reactions that are qualitatively similar to those of RecA protein and Rad51. Human and yeast Rad51 proteins each form a nucleoprotein filament that is very similar to the filament formed by RecA protein. However, recent studies failed to find a similar filament made by Dmc1 but showed instead that this protein forms octameric rings and stacks of rings. These observations stimulated further efforts to elucidate the mechanism by which Dmc1 promotes the recognition of homology. Dmc1, purified to a state in which nuclease and helicase activities were undetectable, promoted homologous pairing and strand exchange as measured by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). Observations on the intermediates and products, which can be distinguished by FRET assays, provided direct evidence of a three-stranded synaptic intermediate. The effects of helix stability and mismatched base pairs on the recognition of homology revealed further that human Dmc1, like human Rad51, requires the preferential breathing of A small middle dotT base pairs for recognition of homology. We conclude that Dmc1, like human Rad51 and E. coli RecA protein, promotes homologous pairing and strand exchange by a "synaptic pathway" involving a three-stranded nucleoprotein intermediate, rather than by a "helicase pathway" involving the separation and reannealing of DNA strands.

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