H2AX: functional roles and potential applications

Chromosoma. 2009 Dec;118(6):683-92. doi: 10.1007/s00412-009-0234-4. Epub 2009 Aug 26.


Upon DNA double-strand break (DSB) induction in mammals, the histone H2A variant, H2AX, becomes rapidly phosphorylated at serine 139. This modified form, termed gamma-H2AX, is easily identified with antibodies and serves as a sensitive indicator of DNA DSB formation. This review focuses on the potential clinical applications of gamma-H2AX detection in cancer and in response to other cellular stresses. In addition, the role of H2AX in homeostasis and disease will be discussed. Recent work indicates that gamma-H2AX detection may become a powerful tool for monitoring genotoxic events associated with cancer development and tumor progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Disease
  • Environmental Health
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Histones