Rad52 in yeast is a key player in homologous recombination (HR), but mammalian RAD52 is dispensable for HR as shown by the lack of a strong HR phenotype in RAD52-deficient cells and in RAD52
knockout mice. RAD52 function in mammalian cells first emerged with the discovery of its important backup role to BRCA (breast cancer genes) in HR. Recent new evidence further demonstrates that RAD52 possesses multiple activities to cope with replication stress. For example, replication stress-induced DNA repair synthesis in mitosis (MiDAS) and oncogene overexpression-induced DNA replication are dependent on RAD52. RAD52 becomes essential in HR to repair DSBs containing secondary structures, which often arise at collapsed replication forks. RAD52 is also implicated in break-induced replication (BIR) and is found to inhibit excessive fork reversal at stalled replication forks. These various functions of RAD52 to deal with replication stress have been linked to the protection of genome stability at common fragile sites, which are often associated with the DNA breakpoints in cancer. Therefore, RAD52 has important recombination roles under special stress conditions in mammalian cells, and presents as a promising anti-cancer therapy target.
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