DNA repair systems are essential for the maintenance of genome integrity. Consequently, the disregulation of repair genes can be expected to be associated with significant, detrimental health effects, which can include an increased prevalence of birth defects, an enhancement of cancer risk, and an accelerated rate of aging. Although original insights into DNA repair and the genes responsible were largely derived from studies in bacteria and yeast, well over 125 genes directly involved in DNA repair have now been identified in humans, and their cDNA sequence established. These genes function in a diverse set of pathways that involve the recognition and removal of DNA lesions, tolerance to DNA damage, and protection from errors of incorporation made during DNA replication or DNA repair. Additional genes indirectly affect DNA repair, by regulating the cell cycle, ostensibly to provide an opportunity for repair or to direct the cell to apoptosis. For about 70 of the DNA repair genes listed in Table I, both the genomic DNA sequence and the cDNA sequence and chromosomal location have been elucidated. In 45 cases single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified and, in some cases, genetic variants have been associated with specific disorders. With the accelerating rate of gene discovery, the number of identified DNA repair genes and sequence variants is quickly rising. This report tabulates the current status of what is known about these genes. The report is limited to genes whose function is directly related to DNA repair.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.