The mismatch repair (MMR) family is a highly conserved group of proteins that function in genome stabilization and mutation avoidance. Their role has been particularly well studied in the context of DNA repair following replication errors, and disruption of these processes results in characteristic microsatellite instability, repair defects and, in mammals, susceptibility to cancer. An additional role in meiotic recombination has been described for several family members, as revealed by extensive studies in yeast. More recently, the role of the mammalian MMR family in meiotic progression has been elucidated by the phenotypic analysis of mice harboring targeted mutations in the genes encoding several MMR family members. This review will discuss the phenotypes of the various mutant mouse lines and, drawing from our knowledge of MMR function in yeast meiosis and in somatic cell repair, will attempt to elucidate the significance of MMR activity in mouse germ cells. These studies highlight the importance of comparative analysis of MMR orthologs across species, and also underscore distinct sexually dimorphic characteristics of mammalian recombination and meiosis.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel.