In meiosis, the accurate segregation of maternal and paternal chromosomes is accomplished by homologous recombination. A central player in meiotic recombination is the Dmc1 recombinase, a member of the RecA/Rad51 recombinase superfamily, which is widely conserved from viruses to humans. Dmc1 is a meiosis-specific protein that functions with the ubiquitously expressed homolog, the Rad51 recombinase, which is essential for both mitotic and meiotic recombination. Since its discovery, it has been speculated that Dmc1 is important for unique aspects of meiotic recombination. Understanding the distinctive properties of Dmc1, namely, the features that distinguish it from Rad51, will further clarify the mechanisms of meiotic recombination. Recent structural, biochemical, and genetic findings are now revealing the molecular mechanisms of Dmc1-mediated homologous recombination and its regulation by various recombination mediators.
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