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      Pathway choice in DNA double strand break repair: observations of a balancing act

      1 , , 1

      Genome Integrity

      BioMed Central

      DSB repair, HR, NHEJ, DNA repair assays, PARP inhibitors

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          Abstract

          Proper repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) is vital for the preservation of genomic integrity. There are two main pathways that repair DSBs, Homologous recombination (HR) and Non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ). HR is restricted to the S and G2 phases of the cell cycle due to the requirement for the sister chromatid as a template, while NHEJ is active throughout the cell cycle and does not rely on a template. The balance between both pathways is essential for genome stability and numerous assays have been developed to measure the efficiency of the two pathways. Several proteins are known to affect the balance between HR and NHEJ and the complexity of the break also plays a role. In this review we describe several repair assays to determine the efficiencies of both pathways. We discuss how disturbance of the balance between HR and NHEJ can lead to disease, but also how it can be exploited for cancer treatment.

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          Most cited references 81

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          Targeting the DNA repair defect in BRCA mutant cells as a therapeutic strategy.

          BRCA1 and BRCA2 are important for DNA double-strand break repair by homologous recombination, and mutations in these genes predispose to breast and other cancers. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is an enzyme involved in base excision repair, a key pathway in the repair of DNA single-strand breaks. We show here that BRCA1 or BRCA2 dysfunction unexpectedly and profoundly sensitizes cells to the inhibition of PARP enzymatic activity, resulting in chromosomal instability, cell cycle arrest and subsequent apoptosis. This seems to be because the inhibition of PARP leads to the persistence of DNA lesions normally repaired by homologous recombination. These results illustrate how different pathways cooperate to repair damage, and suggest that the targeted inhibition of particular DNA repair pathways may allow the design of specific and less toxic therapies for cancer.
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            The DNA damage response: making it safe to play with knives.

            Damage to our genetic material is an ongoing threat to both our ability to faithfully transmit genetic information to our offspring as well as our own survival. To respond to these threats, eukaryotes have evolved the DNA damage response (DDR). The DDR is a complex signal transduction pathway that has the ability to sense DNA damage and transduce this information to the cell to influence cellular responses to DNA damage. Cells possess an arsenal of enzymatic tools capable of remodeling and repairing DNA; however, their activities must be tightly regulated in a temporal, spatial, and DNA lesion-appropriate fashion to optimize repair and prevent unnecessary and potentially deleterious alterations in the structure of DNA during normal cellular processes. This review will focus on how the DDR controls DNA repair and the phenotypic consequences of defects in these critical regulatory functions in mammals. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Specific killing of BRCA2-deficient tumours with inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase.

              Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP1) facilitates DNA repair by binding to DNA breaks and attracting DNA repair proteins to the site of damage. Nevertheless, PARP1-/- mice are viable, fertile and do not develop early onset tumours. Here, we show that PARP inhibitors trigger gamma-H2AX and RAD51 foci formation. We propose that, in the absence of PARP1, spontaneous single-strand breaks collapse replication forks and trigger homologous recombination for repair. Furthermore, we show that BRCA2-deficient cells, as a result of their deficiency in homologous recombination, are acutely sensitive to PARP inhibitors, presumably because resultant collapsed replication forks are no longer repaired. Thus, PARP1 activity is essential in homologous recombination-deficient BRCA2 mutant cells. We exploit this requirement in order to kill BRCA2-deficient tumours by PARP inhibition alone. Treatment with PARP inhibitors is likely to be highly tumour specific, because only the tumours (which are BRCA2-/-) in BRCA2+/- patients are defective in homologous recombination. The use of an inhibitor of a DNA repair enzyme alone to selectively kill a tumour, in the absence of an exogenous DNA-damaging agent, represents a new concept in cancer treatment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Genome Integr
                Genome Integr
                Genome Integrity
                BioMed Central
                2041-9414
                2012
                27 November 2012
                : 3
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Genetics, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
                Article
                2041-9414-3-9
                10.1186/2041-9414-3-9
                3557175
                23181949
                Copyright ©2012 Brandsma and van Gent; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review

                Genetics

                nhej, hr, dsb repair, parp inhibitors, dna repair assays

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