FEN1 removes 5' overhanging flaps in DNA repair and processes the 5' ends of Okazaki fragments in lagging strand DNA synthesis. Direct physical interaction between this protein and AP endonuclease 1 during long-patch base excision repair provides coordinated loading of the proteins onto the substrate, thus passing the substrate from one enzyme to another. FEN1 is a member of the XPG/RAD2 endonuclease family and is one of ten proteins essential for cell-free DNA replication. DNA secondary structure can inhibit flap processing at certain trinucleotide repeats in a length-dependent manner by concealing the 5' end of the flap that is necessary for both binding and cleavage by FEN1. Therefore, secondary structure can deter the protective function of this protein, leading to site-specific trinucleotide expansions (1).
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