Involvement of p53 in the repair of DNA double strand breaks: multifaceted Roles of p53 in homologous recombination repair (HRR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ)

Subcell Biochem. 2014;85:321-36. doi: 10.1007/978-94-017-9211-0_17.


p53 is a tumor suppressor protein that prevents oncogenic transformation and maintains genomic stability by blocking proliferation of cells harboring unrepaired or misrepaired DNA. A wide range of genotoxic stresses such as DNA damaging anti-cancer drugs and ionizing radiation promote nuclear accumulation of p53 and trigger its ability to activate or repress a number of downstream target genes involved in various signaling pathways. This cascade leads to the activation of multiple cell cycle checkpoints and subsequent cell cycle arrest, allowing the cells to either repair the DNA or undergo apoptosis, depending on the intensity of DNA damage. In addition, p53 has many transcription-independent functions, including modulatory roles in DNA repair and recombination. This chapter will focus on the role of p53 in regulating or influencing the repair of DNA double-strand breaks that mainly includes homologous recombination repair (HRR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Through this discussion, we will try to establish that p53 acts as an important linchpin between upstream DNA damage signaling cues and downstream cellular events that include repair, recombination, and apoptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA End-Joining Repair*
  • Genes, p53*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Recombinational DNA Repair*