Repair of DNA Breaks by Break-Induced Replication

Annu Rev Biochem. 2021 Jun 20;90:165-191. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-081420-095551. Epub 2021 Apr 1.


Double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) are the most lethal type of DNA damage, making DSB repair critical for cell survival. However, some DSB repair pathways are mutagenic and promote genome rearrangements, leading to genome destabilization. One such pathway is break-induced replication (BIR), which repairs primarily one-ended DSBs, similar to those formed by collapsed replication forks or telomere erosion. BIR is initiated by the invasion of a broken DNA end into a homologous template, synthesizes new DNA within the context of a migrating bubble, and is associated with conservative inheritance of new genetic material. This mode of synthesis is responsible for a high level of genetic instability associated with BIR. Eukaryotic BIR was initially investigated in yeast, but now it is also actively studied in mammalian systems. Additionally, a significant breakthrough has been made regarding the role of microhomology-mediated BIR in the formation of complex genomic rearrangements that underly various human pathologies.

Keywords: ALT; BIR; CRGs; DSBs; MMBIR; alternative lengthening of telomeres; break-induced replication; complex genome rearrangements; double-strand DNA breaks; microhomology-mediated break-induced replication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural