DNA repair: easy to visualize, difficult to elucidate

Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Nov;19(11):617-29. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2009.08.010. Epub 2009 Oct 8.


Faithful repair of DNA damage is essential for the maintenance of genome integrity. Recent advances in the local induction of DNA damage and in cell biological imaging techniques have extended our understanding of DNA repair gained from biochemical and genetic approaches; these advances now reveal that the assembly of DNA repair complexes at sites of DNA damage is spatially and temporally regulated. Visualization of the dynamics of double strand breaks in living cells has also provided valuable insights into how chromosomal translocations form. Here we outline the most commonly used tools to induce and visualize the DNA repair process and we discuss the advantages and disadvantages inherent to each method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytological Techniques*
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Translocation, Genetic


  • DNA
  • Deoxyribonucleases