Rad51 overexpression promotes alternative double-strand break repair pathways and genome instability

Oncogene. 2004 Jan 15;23(2):546-53. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207098.


Genomic instability is characteristic of tumor cells, and a strong correlation exists between abnormal karyotype and tumorigenicity. Increased expression of the homologous recombination and DNA repair protein Rad51 has been reported in immortalized and tumor cells, which could alter recombination pathways to contribute to the chromosomal rearrangements found in these cells. We used a genetic system to examine the potential for multiple double-strand breaks to lead to genome rearrangements in the presence of increased Rad51 expression. Analysis of repair revealed a novel class of products consistent with crossing over, involving gene conversion associated with an exchange of flanking markers leading to chromosomal translocations. Increased Rad51 also promoted aneuploidy and multiple chromosomal rearrangements. These data provide a link between elevated Rad51 protein levels, genome instability, and tumor progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Genomic Instability*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Rad51 Recombinase
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics
  • Translocation, Genetic / genetics


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • RAD51 protein, human
  • Rad51 Recombinase