Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the self-replicating hereditary material that provides a blueprint which, in collaboration with environmental influences, produces a structural and functional phenotype. As DNA coordinates and directs differentiation, growth, survival, and reproduction, it is responsible for life and the continuation of our species. Genome integrity requires the maintenance of DNA stability for the correct preservation of genetic information. This is facilitated by accurate DNA replication and precise DNA repair. DNA damage may arise from a wide range of both endogenous and exogenous sources but may be repaired through highly specific mechanisms. The most common mechanisms include mismatch, base excision, nucleotide excision, and double-strand DNA (dsDNA) break repair. Concurrent with regulation of the cell cycle, these mechanisms are precisely executed to ensure full restoration of damaged DNA. Failure or inaccuracy in DNA repair contributes to genome instability and loss of genetic information which may lead to mutations resulting in disease or loss of life. A detailed understanding of the mechanisms of DNA damage and its repair provides insight into disease pathogeneses and may facilitate diagnosis and the development of targeted therapies.
Keywords: DNA damage; DNA repair; DNA replication; genome integrity.