A review of recent experiments on step-to-step "hand-off" of the DNA intermediates in mammalian base excision repair pathways

Mol Biol (Mosk). 2011 Jul-Aug;45(4):586-600.


The current "working model" for mammalian base excision repair involves two sub-pathways termed single-nucleotide base excision repair and long patch base excision repair that are distinguished by their repair patch sizes and the enzymes/co-factors involved. These base excision repair sub-pathways are designed to sequester the various DNA intermediates, passing them along from one step to the next without allowing these toxic molecules to trigger cell cycle arrest, necrotic cell death, or apoptosis. Although a variety of DNA-protein and protein-protein interactions are known for the base excision repair intermediates and enzymes/co-factors, the molecular mechanisms accounting for step-to-step coordination are not well understood. In this review, we explore the question of whether there is an actual step-to-step "hand-off" of the DNA intermediates during base excision repair in vitro. The results show that when base excision repair enzymes are pre-bound to the initial single-nucleotide base excision repair intermediate, the DNA is channeled from apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 to DNA polymerase beta and then to DNA ligase. In the long patch base excision repair sub-pathway, where the 5'-end of the incised strand is blocked, the intermediate after polymerase beta gap filling is not channeled from polymerase beta to the subsequent enzyme, flap endonuclease 1. Instead, flap endonuclease 1 must recognize and bind to the intermediate in competition with other molecules.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • DNA Repair / genetics*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / chemistry
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Flap Endonucleases / chemistry
  • Flap Endonucleases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligases / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Flap Endonucleases
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase
  • Ligases