Mechanism and regulation of human non-homologous DNA end-joining

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Sep;4(9):712-20. doi: 10.1038/nrm1202.


Non-homologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ)--the main pathway for repairing double-stranded DNA breaks--functions throughout the cell cycle to repair such lesions. Defects in NHEJ result in marked sensitivity to ionizing radiation and ablation of lymphocytes, which rely on NHEJ to complete the rearrangement of antigen-receptor genes. NHEJ is typically imprecise, a characteristic that is useful for immune diversification in lymphocytes, but which might also contribute to some of the genetic changes that underlie cancer and ageing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage / physiology
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Endonucleases
  • Gene Rearrangement / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • DCLRE1C protein, human
  • Endonucleases