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RAD52 is the key mediator of SSA. Activated ATM phosphorylates and activates ABL1, and activated ABL1 subsequently phosphorylates pre-formed RAD52 heptameric rings, increasing their affinity for ssDNA (Honda et al. 2011). Phosphorylated RAD52 binds phosphorylated RPA heterotrimers on 3'-ssDNA overhangs at resected DNA DSBs. RAD52 also binds RAD51 and prevents formation of invasive RAD51 nucleofilaments involved in HRR (Chen et al. 1999, Van Dyck et al. 1999, Parsons et al. 2000, Jackson et al. 2002, Singleton et al. 2002).
RAD52 promotes annealing of two 3'-ssDNA overhangs when highly homologous directed repeats are present in both 3'-ssDNA overhangs. Nonhomologous regions lying 3' to the annealed repeats are displaced as 3'-flaps (Parsons et al. 2000, Van Dyck et al. 2001, Singleton et al. 2002, Stark et al. 2004, Mansour et al. 2008). The endonuclease complex composed of ERCC1 and ERCC4 (XPF) is subsequently recruited to SSA sites through direct interaction between RAD52 and ERCC4, leading to cleavage of 3' flaps (Motycka et al. 2004, Al-Minawi et al. 2008). The identity of a DNA ligase that closes the remaining single strand nicks (SSBs) to complete SSA-mediated repair is not known.
SSA results in deletion of one of the annealed repeats and the intervening DNA sequence between the two annealed repeats and is thus mutagenic.