Insights into Light-driven DNA Repair by Photolyases: Challenges and Opportunities for Electronic Structure Theory

Photochem Photobiol. 2017 Jan;93(1):37-50. doi: 10.1111/php.12679. Epub 2017 Jan 5.


Ultraviolet radiation causes two of the most abundant mutagenic and cytotoxic DNA lesions: cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers and 6-4 photoproducts. (6-4) Photolyases are light-activated enzymes that selectively bind to DNA and trigger repair of mutagenic 6-4 photoproducts via photoinduced electron transfer from flavin adenine dinucleotide anion (FADH- ) to the lesion triggering repair. This review provides an overview of the sequential steps of the repair process, that is light absorption and resonance energy transfer, photoinduced electron transfer and electron-induced splitting mechanisms, with an emphasis on the role of theory and computation. In addition, theoretical calculations and physical properties that can be used to classify specific mechanism are discussed in an effort to trace the fundamental aspects of each individual step and assist the interpretation of experimental data. The current challenges and suggested future directions are outlined for each step, concluding with a view on the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Repair / radiation effects*
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / chemistry
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase / metabolism*
  • Electrons
  • Energy Transfer
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide / chemistry
  • Protons
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / chemistry
  • Pyrimidine Dimers / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Protons
  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide
  • DNA
  • pyrimidine(6-4)pyrimidone photolyase
  • Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase