Repair of DNA double strand breaks: in vivo biochemistry

Methods Enzymol. 2006;408:416-29. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(06)08026-8.


Double strand breaks (DSBs) can cause damage to the genomic integrity of a cell as well as initiate genetic recombination processes. The HO and I-SceI endonucleases from budding yeast have provided a way to study these events by inducing a unique DSB in vivo under the control of a galactose-inducible promoter. The GAL::HO construct has been used extensively to study processes such as nonhomologous end joining, intra- and interchromosomal gene conversion, single strand annealing and break-induced recombination. Synchronously induced DSBs have also been important in the study of the DNA damage checkpoint, adaptation, and recovery pathways of yeast. This chapter describes methods of using GAL::HO to physically monitor the progression of events following a DSB, specifically the events leading to the switching of mating type by gene conversion of MAT using the silent donors at HML and HMR. Southern blot analysis can be used to follow the overall events in this process such as the formation of the DSB and product. Denaturing alkaline gels and slot blot techniques can be employed to follow the 5' to 3' resection of DNA starting at the DSB. After resection, the 3' tail initiates a homology search and then strand invades its homologous sequence at the donor cassette. Polymerase chain reaction is an important means to assay strand invasion and the priming of new DNA synthesis as well as the completion of gene conversion. Methods such as chromatin immunoprecipitation have provided a means to study many proteins that associate with a DSB, including not only recombination proteins, but also proteins involved in nonhomologous end joining, cell cycle arrest, chromatin remodeling, cohesin function, and mismatch repair.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / genetics
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / metabolism


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • HO protein, S cerevisiae
  • SCEI protein, S cerevisiae
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific