Genome. 1989;31(1):68-73.


Institut Jacques Monod, Université Paris, France.


Two modes of mismatch repair are known to operate in bacteria: long-patch mismatch repair and very short patch mismatch repair. Very short patch mismatch repair systems act on a specific mismatch by conserving only one base pair. Therefore, when very short patch mismatch repair acts on heteroduplex recombination intermediates, it hyper-recombines specific markers by creating patchwork sequences, i.e., apparent multiple exchange events, on the repaired strand. Long-patch mismatch repair is antirecombinagenic, apparently by decomposing heteroduplex DNA or aborting its formation whenever well-recognized mismatches are formed by strand exchange between nonidentical parental sequences. It is postulated here that mismatch-stimulated antirecombination by long-patch mismatch repair is a \"proofreading\" system assuring high fidelity of homologous recombination. This accounts for chromosomal stability in eucaryotes (i.e., the rare occurrence of chromosomal aberrations and mitotic recombination versus the high frequency of precise sister chromatid exchange), suggests a role for diverged repetitive and other noncoding sequences as chromosomal antirecombination elements, and provides a molecular mechanism for speciation without the necessity of geographical separation.

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