Bacterial DNA repair by non-homologous end joining

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Nov;5(11):852-61. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1768.


The capacity to rectify DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) is crucial for the survival of all species. DSBs can be repaired either by homologous recombination (HR) or non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). The long-standing notion that bacteria rely solely on HR for DSB repair has been overturned by evidence that mycobacteria and other genera have an NHEJ system that depends on a dedicated DNA ligase, LigD, and the DNA-end-binding protein Ku. Recent studies have illuminated the role of NHEJ in protecting the bacterial chromosome against DSBs and other clastogenic stresses. There is also emerging evidence of functional crosstalk between bacterial NHEJ proteins and components of other DNA-repair pathways. Although still a young field, bacterial NHEJ promises to teach us a great deal about the nexus of DNA repair and bacterial pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded*
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Recombination, Genetic / physiology


  • DNA, Bacterial