Background: The RAD52 epistasis group in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is involved in various types of homologous recombination including recombinational double-strand break (DSB) repair and meiotic recombination. A RecA homologue, Rad51, plays a pivotal role in homology search and strand exchange. Genetic analysis has shown that among members of its epistasis group, RAD52 alone is required for recombination between direct repeats yielding deletions. Very little has been discovered about the biochemical roles and structure of the Rad52 protein.
Results: Purified Rad52 protein binds to both single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA). Electron microscope observations revealed that Rad52 molecules form multimeric rings. An increase in the intensity of fluorescence when Rad52 is bound to epsilonDNA showed an alteration of the structure of ssDNA. RPA was binding to Rad52 and enhanced the annealing of complementary ssDNA molecules. This enhancement was not observed in Escherichia coli SSB protein or T4 phage gp32 protein.
Conclusion: Rad52 forms a ring-like structure and binds to ssDNA. Its structure and DNA binding properties are different from those of Rad51. The interaction of Rad52 with RPA plays an important role in the enhancement of annealing of complementary ssDNAs. We therefore propose that Rad52 mediates the RAD51-independent recombination through an ssDNA annealing, assisted by RPA.