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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Dec;54(5):1151-60.

Genetic recombination and the cell cycle: what we have learned from chromosome dimers.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et de Génétique Moléculaire, 118, route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse Cedex, France.


Genetic recombination is central to DNA metabolism. It promotes sequence diversity and maintains genome integrity in all organisms. However, it can have perverse effects and profoundly influence the cell cycle. In bacteria harbouring circular chromosomes, recombination frequently has an unwanted outcome, the formation of chromosome dimers. Dimers form by homologous recombination between sister chromosomes and are eventually resolved by the action of two site-specific recombinases, XerC and XerD, at their target site, dif, located in the replication terminus of the chromosome. Studies of the Xer system and of the modalities of dimer formation and resolution have yielded important knowledge on how both homologous and site-specific recombination are controlled and integrated in the cell cycle. Here, we briefly review these advances and highlight the important questions they raise.

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