Homologous recombination near and far from DNA breaks: alternative roles and contrasting views

Annu Rev Genet. 2001;35:243-74. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.35.102401.090509.


Double-strand breaks and other lesions in DNA can stimulate homologous genetic recombination in two quite different ways: by promoting recombination near the break (roughly within a kb) or far from the break. Recent emphasis on the repair aspect of recombination has focused attention on DNA interactions and recombination near breaks. Here I review evidence for recombination far from DNA breaks in bacteria and fungi and discuss mechanisms by which this can occur. These mechanisms include entry of a traveling entity ("recombination machine") at a break, formation of long heteroduplex DNA, priming of DNA replication by a broken end, and induction of recombination potential in trans. Special emphasis is placed on contrasting views of how the RecBCD enzyme of Escherichia coli promotes recombination far (tens of kb) from a double-strand break. The occurrence of recombination far from DNA breaks and of correlated recombination events far apart suggests that "action at a distance" during recombination is a widespread feature among diverse organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • DNA Replication / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Exodeoxyribonuclease V
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Meiosis
  • Models, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic / physiology*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • DNA
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases
  • Exodeoxyribonuclease V