The Search for the Right Partner: Homologous Pairing and DNA Strand Exchange Proteins in Eukaryotes

Experientia. 1994 Mar 15;50(3):223-33. doi: 10.1007/BF01924005.


Finding the right partner is a central problem in homologous recombination. Common to all models for general recombination is a homologous pairing and DNA strand exchange step. In prokaryotes this process has mainly been studied with the RecA protein of Escherichia coli. Two approaches have been used to find homologous pairing and DNA strand exchange proteins in eukaryotes. A biochemical approach has resulted in numerous proteins from various organisms. Almost all of these proteins are biochemically fundamentally different from RecA. The in vivo role of these proteins is largely not understood. A molecular-genetical approach has identified structural homologs to the E. coli RecA protein in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and subsequently in other organisms including other fungi, mammals, birds, and plants. The biochemistry of the eukaryotic RecA homologs is largely unsolved. For the fungal RecA homologs (S. cerevisiae RAD51, RAD55, RAD57, DMC1; Schizosaccharomyces pombe rad51; Neurospora crassa mei3) a role in homologous recombination and recombinational repair is evident. Besides recombination, homologous pairing proteins might be involved in other cellular processes like chromosome pairing or gene inactivation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Fungal Proteins / physiology
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / physiology
  • Rad51 Recombinase
  • Rec A Recombinases / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins*
  • Ustilago / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / physiology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DST1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • ICP8 protein, Simplexvirus
  • RHP51 protein, S pombe
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • ATRAD51 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • RAD51 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Rad51 Recombinase
  • Rec A Recombinases
  • spn-A protein, Drosophila