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Genetic recombination is the production of new combinations of alleles, encoding a novel set of genetic information, e.g., by the pairing of homologous chromosomes in meiosis, or by the breaking and rejoining of DNA strands, which forms new molecules of DNA. This last type of recombination can occur between similar molecules of DNA, as in the homologous recombination of chromosomal crossover, or dissimilar molecules, as in non-homologous end joining. V(D)J recombination in organisms with an adaptive immune system is a type of genetic recombination that helps immune cells rapidly diversify to recognize and adapt to new pathogens. Recombination is a common method of DNA repair in both bacteria and eukaryotes.
Genetic recombination can occur without the breaking and rejoining of DNA strands, in meiosis, with the random pairing of homologous chromosomes (synapsis).
Genetic recombination with breaking and rejoining of DNA strands is catalyzed by many different enzymes, called recombinases. RecA, the chief recombinase found in Escherichia coli, is responsible for the repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). In yeast and other eukaryotic organisms there are two recombinases required for repairing DSBs. The RAD51 protein is required for mitotic and meiotic recombination, whereas the DMC1 protein is specific to meiotic recombination.
Chromosomal crossover 
In eukaryotes, recombination also occurs in meiosis, where it facilitates chromosomal crossover. The crossover process leads to offspring's having different combinations of genes from those of their parents, and can occasionally produce new chimeric alleles. The shuffling of genes brought about by genetic recombination is thought to have many advantages, as it is a major engine of genetic variation and also allows sexually reproducing organisms to avoid Muller's ratchet, in which the genomes of an asexual population accumulate deleterious mutations in an irreversible manner.
Chromosomal crossover refers to recombination between the paired chromosomes inherited from each of one's parents, generally occurring during meiosis. During prophase I the four available chromatids are in tight formation with one another. While in this formation, homologous sites on two chromatids can mesh with one another, and may exchange genetic information.
Because recombination can occur with small probability at any location along chromosome, the frequency of recombination between two locations depends on their distance. Therefore, for genes sufficiently distant on the same chromosome the amount of crossover is high enough to destroy the correlation between alleles.
Tracking the movement of genes during crossovers has proven quite useful to geneticists. Because two genes that are close together are less likely to become separated than genes that are farther apart, geneticists can deduce roughly how far apart two genes are on a chromosome if they know the frequency of the crossovers. Geneticists can also use this method to infer the presence of certain genes. Genes that typically stay together during recombination are said to be linked. One gene in a linked pair can sometimes be used as a marker to deduce the presence of another gene. This is typically used in order to detect the presence of a disease-causing gene.
Gene conversion 
In gene conversion, a section of genetic material is copied from one chromosome to another, without the donating chromosome being changed. Gene conversion occurs at high frequency during meiotic division and at low frequency in somatic cells. It is a process by which a DNA sequence is copied from one DNA helix (which remains unchanged) to another DNA helix, whose sequence is altered. It is one of the ways a gene may be mutated. Gene conversion may lead to non-Mendelian inheritance and has often been recorded in fungal crosses.
Nonhomologous recombination 
In B cells 
B cells of the immune system perform genetic recombination, called immunoglobulin class switching. It is a biological mechanism that changes an antibody from one class to another, for example, from an isotype called IgM to an isotype called IgG.
Genetic engineering 
In genetic engineering, recombination can also refer to artificial and deliberate recombination of disparate pieces of DNA, often from different organisms, creating what is called recombinant DNA. A prime example of such a use of genetic recombination is gene targeting, which can be used to add, delete or otherwise change an organism's genes. This technique is important to biomedical researchers as it allows them to study the effects of specific genes. Techniques based on genetic recombination are also applied in protein engineering to develop new proteins of biological interest.
See also 
- Recombination frequency
- Recombination hotspot
- Four-gamete test
- Independent assortment
- Site-specific recombination
- Site-specific recombinase technology
- The Holliday Model of Genetic Recombination
- Genetic recombination at the US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- Animated guide to homologous recombination.
- Alberts, Bruce (2002). Molecular Biology of the Cell, Fourth Edition. New York: Garland Science. ISBN 978-0-8153-3218-3.
- "Access Excellence". Crossing-over: Genetic Recombination. The National Health Museum Resource Center. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- Stacey, K. A. 1994. Recombination. In: Kendrew John, Lawrence Eleanor (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Molecular Biology. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 945–950.
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