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Mutat Res. 2004 May;566(3):231-48.

New insights into the mechanism of homologous recombination in yeast.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel.


Genome stability is of primary importance for the survival and proper functioning of all organisms. Double-strand breaks (DSBs) arise spontaneously during growth, or can be created by external insults. Repair of DSBs by homologous recombination provides an efficient and fruitful pathway to restore chromosomal integrity. Exciting new work in yeast has lately provided insights into this complex process. Many of the proteins involved in recombination have been isolated and the details of the repair mechanism are now being unraveled at the molecular level. In this review, we focus on recent studies which dissect the recombinational repair of a single broken chromosome. After DSB formation, a decision is made regarding the mechanism of repair (recombination or non-homologous end-joining). This decision is under genetic control. Once committed to the recombination pathway, the broken chromosomal ends are resected by a still unclear mechanism in which the DNA damage checkpoint protein Rad24 participates. At this stage several proteins are recruited to the broken ends, including Rad51p, Rad52p, Rad55p, Rad57p, and possibly Rad54p. A genomic search for homology ensues, followed by strand invasion, promoted by the Rad51 filament with the participation of Rad55p, Rad57p and Rad54p. DNA synthesis then takes place, restoring the resected ends. Crossing-over formation depends on the length of the homologous recombining sequences, and is usually counteracted by the activity of the mismatch repair system. Given the conservation of the repair mechanisms and genes throughout evolution, these studies have profound implications for other eukaryotic organisms.

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