Beyond repair foci: subnuclear domains and the cellular response to DNA damage

Cell Cycle. 2007 Aug 1;6(15):1864-72. doi: 10.4161/cc.6.15.4560. Epub 2007 Jun 11.


In the mid to late 1990s several groups identified DNA damage-dependent focal accumulations in nuclei of both DNA repair factors and the phosphorylated form of the histone variant H2A.X. The term "repair foci" has since been used to describe these protein accumulations. As a molecular marker for DNA damage, they have been immensely useful in the study of signal transduction pathways triggered by DNA damage while aiding in the identification of new factors involved in DNA repair. In spite of their importance, many other changes in the nuclear landscape correlate with DNA damage and repair processes. These include dramatic changes in chromatin ultrastructure and epigenetic modifications, which occur at the site of DNA breaks as well as globally throughout the nucleus. Besides chromatin, DNA damage also affects the dynamic behaviour, morphology and biochemical composition of various subnuclear domains, including the nucleolus, promyelocytic leukemia (PML) nuclear bodies and Cajal bodies. These changes in the nuclear landscape, the topic of this review, appear to be intimately linked to the cellular response to DNA damage and may prove as useful as repair foci in elucidating mechanisms of DNA repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction


  • DNA