Homologous recombination, the exchange of DNA strands between homologous DNA molecules, is involved in repair of many structural diverse DNA lesions. This versatility stems from multiple ways in which homologous DNA strands can be rearranged. At the core of homologous recombination are recombinase proteins such as RecA and RAD51 that mediate homology recognition and DNA strand exchange through formation of a dynamic nucleoprotein filament. Four stages in the life cycle of nucleoprotein filaments are filament nucleation, filament growth, homologous DNA pairing and strand exchange, and filament dissociation. Progression through this cycle requires a sequence of recombinase-DNA and recombinase protein-protein interactions coupled to ATP binding and hydrolysis. The function of recombinases is controlled by accessory proteins that allow coordination of strand exchange with other steps of homologous recombination and that tailor to the needs of specific aberrant DNA structures undergoing recombination. Accessory proteins are also able to reverse filament formation thereby guarding against inappropriate DNA rearrangements. The dynamic instability of the recombinase-DNA interactions allows both positive and negative action of accessory proteins thereby ensuring that genome maintenance by homologous recombination is not only flexible and versatile, but also accurate.
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