Multiple cellular mechanisms prevent chromosomal rearrangements involving repetitive DNA

Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. May-Jun 2012;47(3):297-313. doi: 10.3109/10409238.2012.675644. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


Repetitive DNA is present in the eukaryotic genome in the form of segmental duplications, tandem and interspersed repeats, and satellites. Repetitive sequences can be beneficial by serving specific cellular functions (e.g. centromeric and telomeric DNA) and by providing a rapid means for adaptive evolution. However, such elements are also substrates for deleterious chromosomal rearrangements that affect fitness and promote human disease. Recent studies analyzing the role of nuclear organization in DNA repair and factors that suppress non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR) have provided insights into how genome stability is maintained in eukaryotes. In this review, we outline the types of repetitive sequences seen in eukaryotic genomes and how recombination mechanisms are regulated at the DNA sequence, cell organization, chromatin structure, and cell cycle control levels to prevent chromosomal rearrangements involving these sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosomes / chemistry
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Crossing Over, Genetic
  • DNA Repair
  • Eukaryota / chemistry
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Genomic Instability
  • Homologous Recombination*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid*


  • Chromatin