Component of the MRN complex, which plays a central role in double-strand break (DSB) repair, DNA recombination, maintenance of telomere integrity and meiosis. The complex possesses single-strand endonuclease activity and double-strand-specific 3'-5' exonuclease activity, which are provided by MRE11A. RAD50 may be required to bind DNA ends and hold them in close proximity. This could facilitate searches for short or long regions of sequence homology in the recombining DNA templates, and may also stimulate the activity of DNA ligases and/or restrict the nuclease activity of MRE11A to prevent nucleolytic degradation past a given point. The complex may also be required for DNA damage signaling via activation of the ATM kinase. In telomeres the MRN complex may modulate t-loop formation.