Transcription is a potential threat to genome integrity, and transcription-associated DNA damage must be repaired for proper messenger RNA (mRNA) synthesis and for cells to transmit their genome intact into progeny. For a wide range of structurally diverse DNA lesions, cells employ the highly conserved nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway to restore their genome back to its native form. Recent evidence suggests that NER factors function, in addition to the canonical DNA repair mechanism, in processes that facilitate mRNA synthesis or shape the 3D chromatin architecture. Here, these findings are critically discussed and a working model that explains the puzzling clinical heterogeneity of NER syndromes highlighting the relevance of physiological, transcription-associated DNA damage to mammalian development and disease is proposed.
Keywords: DNA damage; DNA repair; NER, nucleotide excision repair; developmental defects; human diseases; mouse models; transcription.
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