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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2001;52:1-53.

Mechanism and control of meiotic recombination initiation.

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Molecular Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Homologous recombination is essential during meiosis in most sexually reproducing organisms. In budding yeast, and most likely in other organisms as well, meiotic recombination proceeds via the formation and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). These breaks appear to be formed by the Spo11 protein, with assistance from a large number of other gene products, by a topoisomerase-like transesterase mechanism. Recent studies in fission yeast, multicellular fungi, flies, worms, plants, and mammals indicate that the role of Spo11 in meiotic recombination initiation is highly conserved. This chapter reviews the properties of Spo11 and the other gene products required for meiotic DSB formation in a number of organisms and discusses ways in which recombination initiation is coordinated with other events occurring in the meiotic cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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