Homologous recombination (HR) is a major, conserved pathway of chromosome damage repair. It not only fulfills key functions in the removal of deleterious lesions such as DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and interstrand cross-links (ICLs), but also in replication fork repair and protection. Several familial and acquired cancer predisposition syndromes stem from defects in HR. In particular, individuals with mutations in HR genes exhibit predisposition to breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, and they also show signs of accelerated aging. However, aberrant and untimely HR events can lead to the loss of heterozygosity, genomic rearrangements, and cytotoxic nucleoprotein intermediates. Thus, it is critically important that HR be tightly regulated. In addition to DNA repair, HR is also involved in meiotic chromosome segregation and telomere maintenance in cells that lack telomerase. In this review, we focus on the role of HR in DSB repair (DSBR) and summarize the current state of the field.

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