The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad52 protein is essential for efficient homologous recombination (HR). An important role of Rad52 in HR is the loading of Rad51 onto replication protein A-coated single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), which is referred to as the recombination mediator activity. In vitro, Rad52 displays additional activities, including self-association, DNA binding and ssDNA annealing. Although Rad52 has been a subject of extensive genetic, biochemical and structural studies, the mechanisms by which these activities are coordinated in the various roles of Rad52 in HR remain largely unknown. In the present study, we found that an isolated C-terminal half of Rad52 disrupted the Rad51 oligomer and formed a heterodimeric complexwith Rad51. The Rad52 fragment inhibited the binding of Rad51 to double-stranded DNA, but not to ssDNA. The phenylalanine-349 and tyrosine-409 residues present in the C-terminal half of Rad52 were critical for the interaction with Rad51, the disruption of Rad51 oligomers, the mediator activity of the full-length protein and for DNA repair in vivo in the presence of methyl methanesulfonate. Our studies suggested that phenylalanine-349 and tyrosine-409 are key residues in the C-terminal half of Rad52 and probably play an important role in the mediator activity.
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