Oxidative genome damage induced by reactive oxygen species includes oxidized bases, abasic (AP) sites, and single-strand breaks, all of which are repaired via the evolutionarily conserved base excision repair/single-strand break repair (BER/SSBR) pathway. BER/SSBR in mammalian cells is complex, with preferred and backup sub-pathways, and is linked to genome replication and transcription. The early BER/SSBR enzymes, namely, DNA glycosylases (DGs) and the end-processing proteins such as abasic endonuclease 1 (APE1), form complexes with downstream repair (and other noncanonical) proteins via pairwise interactions. Furthermore, a unique feature of mammalian early BER/SSBR enzymes is the presence of a disordered terminal extension that is absent in their Escherichia coli prototypes. These nonconserved segments usually contain organelle-targeting signals, common interaction interfaces, and sites of posttranslational modifications that may be involved in regulating their repair function including lesion scanning. Finally, the linkage of BER/SSBR deficiency to cancer, aging, and human neurodegenerative diseases, and therapeutic targeting of BER/SSBR are discussed.
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