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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Jan;17(1):267-77.

Repair of site-specific double-strand breaks in a mammalian chromosome by homologous and illegitimate recombination.

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Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


In mammalian cells, chromosomal double-strand breaks are efficiently repaired, yet little is known about the relative contributions of homologous recombination and illegitimate recombination in the repair process. In this study, we used a loss-of-function assay to assess the repair of double-strand breaks by homologous and illegitimate recombination. We have used a hamster cell line engineered by gene targeting to contain a tandem duplication of the native adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (APRT) gene with an I-SceI recognition site in the otherwise wild-type APRT+ copy of the gene. Site-specific double-strand breaks were induced by intracellular expression of I-SceI, a rare-cutting endonuclease from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I-SceI cleavage stimulated homologous recombination about 100-fold; however, illegitimate recombination was stimulated more than 1,000-fold. These results suggest that illegitimate recombination is an important competing pathway with homologous recombination for chromosomal double-strand break repair in mammalian cells.

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