The central recombination enzyme RAD51 has been implicated in replication fork processing and restart in response to replication stress. Here, we use a separation-of-function allele of RAD51 that retains DNA binding, but not D-loop activity, to reveal mechanistic aspects of RAD51’s roles in the response to replication stress. Here, we find that cells lacking RAD51’s enzymatic activity protect replication forks from MRE11-dependent degradation, as expected from previous studies. Unexpectedly, we find that RAD51’s strand exchange activity is not required to convert stalled forks to a form that can be degraded by DNA2. Such conversion was shown previously to require replication fork regression, supporting a model in which fork regression depends on a non-enzymatic function of RAD51. We also show RAD51 promotes replication restart by both strand exchange-dependent and strand exchange-independent mechanisms.
Mason, J.M., Chan, Y., Weichselbaum, R.W. et al. Non-enzymatic roles of human RAD51 at stalled replication forks. Nat Commun 10, 4410 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12297-0