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Biochimie. 1991 Apr;73(4):385-97.

The split-end model for homologous recombination at double-strand breaks and at Chi.

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Department of Genetics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


In recent years two different styles of model for homologous recombination have been discussed, depending on whether or not the recombination event occurs in the vicinity of a double-strand break in DNA. The models of Holliday and Meselson and Radding exemplify those that do not involve a break whereas the model of Szostak et al is taken as an example of those that do. Recent advances in understanding a prototypic recombination system thought to promote exchange distant from DNA ends, at Chi sites, suggest a mechanism of initiation neither like Holliday/Meselson-Radding nor like Szostak et al. In those models, only one strand of DNA may invade a homologous DNA molecule. We propose a model for Chi in which exonuclease degrades DNA from a double-strand break to the Chi site; the exonuclease is converted into a helicase upon interaction with Chi; unwinding produces a recombinagenic split-end, and both 3'- and 5'-ending strands at the split-end are capable of invading a homologue. Different genetic consequences are proposed to result from invasion by each. We review evidence supporting the split-end model and suggest its application in at least some cases previously considered to proceed via the Meselson/Radding model and by the double-strand-break repair model of Szostak et al.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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