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Mol Cell. 1998 Jun;1(7):969-79.

The 3' to 5' exonuclease activity of Mre 11 facilitates repair of DNA double-strand breaks.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0540, USA.


MRE11 and RAD50 are known to be required for nonhomologous joining of DNA ends in vivo. We have investigated the enzymatic activities of the purified proteins and found that Mre11 by itself has 3' to 5' exonuclease activity that is increased when Mre11 is in a complex with Rad50. Mre11 also exhibits endonuclease activity, as shown by the asymmetric opening of DNA hairpin loops. In conjunction with a DNA ligase, Mre11 promotes the joining of noncomplementary ends in vitro by utilizing short homologies near the ends of the DNA fragments. Sequence identities of 1-5 base pairs are present at all of these junctions, and their diversity is consistent with the products of nonhomologous end-joining observed in vivo.

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