DNA Repair


When the DNA in cells is damaged by chemical or physical agents, such as ultraviolet light, the damage can lead to DNA mutations or even cell death. Cells use various DNA‐repair proteins to fix any damage and to prevent damage‐induced mutations and killing.

Keywords: DNA repair; mutations; cell death; excision repair; reversal of damage

Figure 1.

DNA repair pathways. This diagram of double‐stranded DNA shows three possible repair pathways for an adducted base. The arrows show where the repair proteins remove damage or cut the DNA molecule. (a) If the adduct is a substrate for a methyltransferase, such as O6‐methylguanine, the adduct itself can be physically removed from the base. (b) If the adducted base is a substrate for base excision repair, the base is removed by cutting the glycosylic bond, and a new base is inserted in its place. (c) If the base is a substrate for nucleotide excision repair, a piece of DNA containing the base is removed by cutting at the arrows and a new piece of DNA is synthesized in its place.


Further Reading

Culotta E and Koshland Jr DE (1994) DNA repair works its way to the top: the hard working DNA repair enzymes preserve genetic information, guard against cancer, and unite basic cell biology, cancer research, and toxicology. Science 266: 1926–1929.

Friedberg EC (1997) Correcting the Blueprint of Life: An Historical Account of the Discovery of DNA Repair Mechanisms. Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Friedberg EC, Walker GC and Siede W (1995) DNA Repair and Mutagenesis. Washington, DC: ASM Press.

Griffiths AJF, Miller JH, Suzuki DT, Lewontin RC and Gelbart WM (1996) An Introduction to Genetic Analysis, 6th edn, pp. 181–210, pp. 583–616. New York: WH Freeman.

Howard‐Flanders P (1981) Inducible repair of DNA. Scientific American 245: 72–80.

Marx J (1994) DNA repair comes into its own. Science 266: 728–730.

Nickoloff JA and Hoekstra MF (eds) (1998) DNA Damage and Repair. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press.

Radman M and Wagner R (1988) The high fidelity of DNA duplication. Scientific American 259: 40–46.

Travis J (1995) DNA flips out! Enzymes repair and modify DNA in a surprising way. Science News 148: 188–189.

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How to Cite close
Posnick, Lauren M, and Samson, Leona D(Jul 2003) DNA Repair. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000554]