Date: 29 Oct 2012

Roles of DNA Helicases in the Mediation and Regulation of Homologous Recombination

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Abstract

Homologous recombination (HR) is an evolutionarily conserved process that eliminates DNA double-strand breaks from chromosomes, repairs injured DNA replication forks, and helps orchestrate meiotic chromosome segregation. Recent studies have shown that DNA helicases play multifaceted roles in HR mediation and regulation. In particular, the S. cerevisiae Sgs1 helicase and its human ortholog BLM helicase are involved in not only the resection of the primary lesion to generate single-stranded DNA to prompt the assembly of the HR machinery, but they also function in somatic cells to suppress the formation of chromosome arm crossovers during HR. On the other hand, the S. cerevisiae Mph1 and Srs2 helicases, and their respective functional equivalents in other eukaryotes, suppress spurious HR events and favor the formation of noncrossovers via distinct mechanisms. Thus, the functional integrity of the HR process and HR outcomes are dependent upon these helicase enzymes. Since mutations in some of these helicases lead to cancer predisposition in humans and mice, studies on them have clear relevance to human health and disease.