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Mol Microbiol. 1991 Jun;5(6):1295-9.

The RecA protein as a recombinational repair system.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


The Escherichia coli RecA protein plays a central role in homologous genetic recombination, recombinational repair, and several other processes in bacteria. In vitro, an extended filament involving thousands of RecA monomers promotes a reaction in which individual DNA strands switch pairing partners (DNA strand exchange). This reaction has been extensively studied as a paradigm for the central steps in recombination. Because the strand-exchange reaction is relatively simple and isoenergetic, the complexity of the RecA system that carries it out has led to controversy about the functional significance of many fundamental properties of RecA. Filamentous protein structures involving thousands of RecA monomers, which hydrolyse 100 ATPs per base pair of heteroduplex DNA formed, are hard to rationalize in the context of recombination between two homologous DNAs. The thermodynamic barriers to strand exchange are much too small. These molecular features of the system can be easily rationalized, however, by shifting the focus to DNA repair.

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