Homologous recombination (HR) is a ubiquitous cellular pathway that mediates transfer of genetic information between homologous or near homologous (homeologous) DNA sequences. During meiosis it ensures proper chromosome segregation in the first division. Moreover, HR is critical for the tolerance and repair of DNA damage, as well as in the recovery of stalled and broken replication forks. Together these functions preserve genomic stability and assure high fidelity transmission of the genetic material in the mitotic and meiotic cell divisions. This review will focus on the Rad54 protein, a member of the Snf2-family of SF2 helicases, which translocates on dsDNA but does not display strand displacement activity typical for a helicase. A wealth of genetic, cytological, biochemical and structural data suggests that Rad54 is a core factor of HR, possibly acting at multiple stages during HR in concert with the central homologous pairing protein Rad51.
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