The discovery of DNA damage response proteins such as γH2AX, ATM, 53BP1, RAD51, and the MRE11/RAD50/NBS1 complex, that accumulate and/or are modified in the vicinity of a chromosomal DNA double-strand break to form microscopically visible, subnuclear foci, has revolutionized the detection of these lesions and has enabled studies of the cellular machinery that contributes to their repair. Double-strand breaks are induced directly by a number of physical and chemical agents, including ionizing radiation and radiomimetic drugs, but can also arise as secondary lesions during replication and DNA repair following exposure to a wide range of genotoxins. Here we aim to review the biological meaning and significance of DNA damage foci, looking specifically at a range of different settings in which such markers of DNA damage and repair are being studied and interpreted.
Keywords: 53BP1; DNA double-strand break; genotoxicity; ionizing radiation; γH2AX.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.