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Bacterial DNA repair genes and their eukaryotic homologues: 5. The role of recombination in DNA repair and genome stability

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Recombinational repair is a well conserved DNA repair mechanism present in all living organisms. Repair by homologous recombination is generally accurate as it uses undamaged homologous DNA molecule as a repair template. In Escherichia coli homologous recombination repairs both the double-strand breaks and single-strand gaps in DNA. DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) can be induced upon exposure to exogenous sources such as ionizing radiation or endogenous DNA-damaging agents including reactive oxygen species (ROS) as well as during natural biological processes like conjugation. However, the bulk of double strand breaks are formed during replication fork collapse encountering an unrepaired single strand gap in DNA. Under such circumstances DNA replication on the damaged template can be resumed only if supported by homologous recombination. This functional cooperation of homologous recombination with replication machinery enables successful completion of genome duplication and faithful transmission of genetic material to a daughter cell. In eukaryotes, homologous recombination is also involved in essential biological processes such as preservation of genome integrity, DNA damage checkpoint activation, DNA damage repair, DNA replication, mating type switching, transposition, immune system development and meiosis. When unregulated, recombination can lead to genome instability and carcinogenesis.
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