To develop an in vivo tool to probe brain genotoxic stress, we designed a viral proxy as a single-cell genetic sensor termed PRISM that harnesses the instability of recombinant adeno-associated virus genome processing and a hypermutable repeat sequence-dependent reporter. PRISM exploits the virus-host interaction to probe persistent neuronal DNA damage and overactive DNA damage response. A Parkinson's disease (PD)-associated environmental toxicant, paraquat (PQ), inflicted neuronal genotoxic stress sensitively detected by PRISM. The most affected cell type in PD, dopaminergic (DA) neurons in substantia nigra, was distinguished by a high level of genotoxic stress following PQ exposure. Human alpha-synuclein proteotoxicity and propagation also triggered genotoxic stress in nigral DA neurons in a transgenic mouse model. Genotoxic stress is a prominent feature in PD patient brains. Our results reveal that PD-associated etiological factors precipitated brain genotoxic stress and detail a useful tool for probing the pathogenic significance in aging and neurodegenerative disorders.