Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Journal of Molecular Sciences




23: 6102

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Originally published at

Funded in part by the VCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

Date of Submission

March 2020


Homologous recombination (HR) is a complex biological process and is central to meiosis and for repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Although the HR process has been the subject of intensive study for more than three decades, the complex protein–protein and protein–DNA interactions during HR present a significant challenge for determining the molecular mechanism(s) of the process. This knowledge gap is largely because of the dynamic interactions between HR proteins and DNA which is difficult to capture by routine biochemical or structural biology methods. In recent years, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy has been a popular method in the field of HR to visualize these complex and dynamic interactions at high spatiotemporal resolution, revealing mechanistic insights of the process. In this review, we describe recent efforts that employ single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to investigate protein–protein and protein–DNA interactions operating on three key DNA-substrates: single-stranded DNA (ssDNA), double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), and four-way DNA called Holliday junction (HJ). We also outline the technological advances and several key insights revealed by these studies in terms of protein assembly on these DNA substrates and highlight the foreseeable promise of single-molecule fluorescence microscopy in advancing our understanding of homologous recombination.


© 2019 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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