The yeast and human RAD51 genes encode strand-transfer proteins that are thought to be involved in both recombinational repair of DNA damage and meiotic recombination. In yeast, the Rad51 family of related proteins also includes Rad55, Rad57 and Dmc1. In mammalian cells, five genes in this family have been identified (HsRAD51, XRCC2, XRCC3, RAD51B/hREC2 and HsDMC1), and here we report the isolation of the sixth member, RAD51C. RAD51C was originally identified by a computer screen of the EST database. A full-length ~1.3 kb cDNA clone has been isolated that encodes a protein of 376 aa, having a 18-26% aa identity with other human Rad51 family members. RAD51C includes a previously mapped sequenced-tagged site location near the end of chromosome 17q. The RAD51C transcript is expressed in various human tissues, with highest level of expression in testis, followed by heart muscle, spleen and prostate. Yeast two-hybrid experiments indicate that the Rad51C protein binds to two other members of the Rad51 protein family (Xrcc3 and Rad51B) but not to itself. These findings suggest that Rad51C may function similarly to the yeast Rad55 or Rad57 proteins, rather than as a Rad51 functional homolog.
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