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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2404. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3404.

BRCA1 and CtIP suppress long-tract gene conversion between sister chromatids.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


BRCA1 controls early steps of the synthesis-dependent strand annealing (SDSA) pathway of homologous recombination, but has no known role following Rad51-mediated synapsis. Here we show that BRCA1 influences post-synaptic homologous recombination events, controlling the balance between short- (STGC) and long-tract gene conversion (LTGC) between sister chromatids. Brca1 mutant cells reveal a bias towards LTGC that is corrected by expression of wild-type but not cancer-predisposing BRCA1 alleles. The LTGC bias is enhanced by depletion of CtIP but reversed by inhibition of 53BP1, implicating DNA end resection as a contributor to the STGC/LTGC balance. The impact of BRCA1/CtIP loss on the STGC/LTGC balance is abolished when the second (non-invading) end of the break is unable to support termination of STGC by homologous pairing (annealing). This suggests that BRCA1/CtIP-mediated processing of the second end of the break controls the annealing step that normally terminates SDSA, thereby suppressing the error-prone LTGC outcome.

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