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J Mol Biol. 1998 Dec 11;284(4):1027-38.

Visualisation of human rad52 protein and its complexes with hRad51 and DNA.

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  • 1Clare Hall Laboratories, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, South Mimms, Hertfordshire, EN6 3LD, UK.


The human Rad52 protein stimulates joint molecule formation by hRad51, a homologue of Escherichia coli RecA protein. Electron microscopic analysis of hRad52 shows that it self-associates to form ring structures with a diameter of approximately 10 nm. Each ring contains a hole at its centre. hRad52 binds to single and double-stranded DNA. In the ssDNA-hRad52 complexes, hRad52 was distributed along the length of the DNA, which exhibited a characteristic "beads on a string" appearance. At higher concentrations of hRad52, "super-rings" (approximately 30 nm) were observed and the ssDNA was collapsed upon itself. In contrast, in dsDNA-hRad52 complexes, some regions of the DNA remained protein-free while others, containing hRad52, interacted to form large protein-DNA networks. Saturating concentrations of hRad51 displaced hRad52 from ssDNA, whereas dsDNA-Rad52 complexes (networks) were more resistant to hRad51 invasion and nucleoprotein filament formation. When Rad52-Rad51-DNA complexes were probed with gold-conjugated hRad52 antibodies, the presence of globular hRad52 structures within the Rad51 nucleoprotein filament was observed. These data provide the first direct visualisation of protein-DNA complexes formed by the human Rad51 and Rad52 recombination/repair proteins.

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