DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are DNA lesions that must be accurately repaired in order to preserve genomic integrity and cellular viability. The response to DSBs reshapes the local chromatin environment and is largely orchestrated by the deposition, removal and detection of a complex set of chromatin-associated post-translational modifications. In particular, the nucleosome acts as a central signalling hub and landing platform in this process by organizing the recruitment of repair and signalling factors, while at the same time coordinating repair with other DNA-based cellular processes. While current research has provided a descriptive overview of which histone marks affect DSB repair, we are only beginning to understand how these marks are interpreted to foster an efficient DSB response. Here we review how the modified chromatin surrounding DSBs is read, with a focus on the insights gleaned from structural and biochemical studies.This article is part of the themed issue 'Chromatin modifiers and remodellers in DNA repair and signalling'.
Keywords: DNA double-strand breaks; DNA repair; chromatin; nucleosome; post-translational modification.
© 2017 The Author(s).