Endogenous processes or genotoxic agents can induce many types of single DNA damage (single-strand breaks, oxidized bases and abasic sites). In addition, ionizing radiation induces complex lesions such as double-strand breaks and clustered damage. To preserve the genomic stability and prevent carcinogenesis, distinct repair pathways have evolved. Despite this, complex DNA damage can cause severe problems and is believed to contribute to the biological consequences observed in cells exposed to genotoxic stress. In this review, the current knowledge of formation and repair of complex DNA damage is summarized and the risks and biological consequences associated with their repair are discussed.
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