The mechanism of double-strand DNA break repair by the nonhomologous DNA end-joining pathway

Annu Rev Biochem. 2010;79:181-211. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.052308.093131.

Abstract

Double-strand DNA breaks are common events in eukaryotic cells, and there are two major pathways for repairing them: homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous DNA end joining (NHEJ). The various causes of double-strand breaks (DSBs) result in a diverse chemistry of DNA ends that must be repaired. Across NHEJ evolution, the enzymes of the NHEJ pathway exhibit a remarkable degree of structural tolerance in the range of DNA end substrate configurations upon which they can act. In vertebrate cells, the nuclease, DNA polymerases, and ligase of NHEJ are the most mechanistically flexible and multifunctional enzymes in each of their classes. Unlike repair pathways for more defined lesions, NHEJ repair enzymes act iteratively, act in any order, and can function independently of one another at each of the two DNA ends being joined. NHEJ is critical not only for the repair of pathologic DSBs as in chromosomal translocations, but also for the repair of physiologic DSBs created during variable (diversity) joining [V(D)J] recombination and class switch recombination (CSR). Therefore, patients lacking normal NHEJ are not only sensitive to ionizing radiation (IR), but also severely immunodeficient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded*
  • DNA Ligases / metabolism
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism
  • Deoxyribonucleases / metabolism
  • Humans

Substances

  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Deoxyribonucleases
  • DNA Ligases