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Cell. 2002 Jan 25;108(2):183-93.

The Mre11 complex is required for repair of hairpin-capped double-strand breaks and prevention of chromosome rearrangements.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Inverted repeats (IRs) that can form a hairpin or cruciform structure are common in the human genome and may be sources of instability. An IR involving the human Alu sequence (Alu-IR) has been studied as a model of such structures in yeast. We found that an Alu-IR is a mitotic recombination hotspot requiring MRE11/RAD50/XRS2 and SAE2. Using a newly developed approach for mapping rare double-strand breaks (DSBs), we established that induction of recombination results from breaks that are terminated by hairpins. Failure of the mre11, rad50, xrs2, and sae2 mutants to process the hairpins blocks recombinational repair of the DSBs and leads to generation of chromosome inverted duplications. Our results suggest an additional role for the Mre11 complex in maintaining genome stability.

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