Mitotic recombination is an important mechanism of DNA repair in eukaryotic cells. Given the redundancy of the eukaryotic genomes and the presence of repeated DNA sequences, recombination may also be an important source of genomic instability. Here we review the data, mainly from the budding yeast S. cerevisiae, that may help to understand the spontaneous origin of mitotic recombination and the different elements that may control its occurrence. We cover those observations suggesting a putative role of replication defects and DNA damage, including double-strand breaks, as sources of mitotic homologous recombination. An important part of the review is devoted to the experimental evidence suggesting that transcription and chromatin structure are important factors modulating the incidence of mitotic recombination. This is of great relevance in order to identify the causes and risk factors of genomic instability in eukaryotes.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.