Biochemistry of eukaryotic homologous recombination

Wolf Dietrich Heyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The biochemistry of eukaryotic homologous recombination caught fire with the discovery that Rad51 is the eukaryotic homolog of the bacterial RecA and T4 UvsX proteins; and this field is still hot. The core reaction of homologous recombination, homology search and DNA strand invasion, along with the proteins catalyzing it, are conserved throughout evolution in principle. However, the increased complexity of eukaryotic genomes and the diversity of eukaryotic cell biology pose additional challenges to the recombination machinery. It is not surprising that this increase in complexity coincided with the evolution of new recombination proteins and novel support pathways, as well as changes in the properties of those eukaryotic recombination proteins that are evidently conserved in evolution. In humans, defects in homologous recombination lead to increased cancer predisposition, underlining the importance of this pathway for genomic stability and tumor suppression. This review will focus on the mechanisms of homologous recombination in eukaryotes as elucidated by the biochemical analysis of yeast and human proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-283
Number of pages33
JournalTopics in Current Genetics
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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