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Bioessays. 1994 Dec;16(12):893-900.

Long DNA palindromes, cruciform structures, genetic instability and secondary structure repair.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


Long DNA palindromes pose a threat to genome stability. This instability is primarily mediated by slippage on the lagging strand of the replication fork between short directly repeated sequences close to the ends of the palindrome. The role of the palindrome is likely to be the juxtaposition of the directly repeated sequences by intra-strand base-pairing. This intra-strand base-pairing, if present on both strands, results in a cruciform structure. In bacteria, cruciform structures have proved difficult to detect in vivo, suggesting that if they form, they are either not replicated or are destroyed. SbcCD, a recently discovered exonuclease of Escherichia coli, is responsible for preventing the replication of long palindromes. These observations lead to the proposal that cells may have evolved a post-replicative mechanism for the elimination and/or repair of large DNA secondary structures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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