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      γ-H2AX in recognition and signaling of DNA double-strand breaks in the context of chromatin

      , , , *

      Nucleic Acids Research

      Oxford University Press

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          Abstract

          DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are extremely dangerous lesions with severe consequences for cell survival and the maintenance of genomic stability. In higher eukaryotic cells, DSBs in chromatin promptly initiate the phosphorylation of the histone H2A variant, H2AX, at Serine 139 to generate γ-H2AX. This phosphorylation event requires the activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-OH-kinase-like family of protein kinases, DNA-PKcs, ATM, and ATR, and serves as a landing pad for the accumulation and retention of the central components of the signaling cascade initiated by DNA damage. Regions in chromatin with γ-H2AX are conveniently detected by immunofluorescence microscopy and serve as beacons of DSBs. This has allowed the development of an assay that has proved particularly useful in the molecular analysis of the processing of DSBs. Here, we first review the role of γ-H2AX in DNA damage response in the context of chromatin and discuss subsequently the use of this modification as a surrogate marker for mechanistic studies of DSB induction and processing. We conclude with a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach and present some interesting applications of the resulting methodology.

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          Most cited references 136

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          The role of chromatin during transcription.

          Chromatin structure imposes significant obstacles on all aspects of transcription that are mediated by RNA polymerase II. The dynamics of chromatin structure are tightly regulated through multiple mechanisms including histone modification, chromatin remodeling, histone variant incorporation, and histone eviction. In this Review, we highlight advances in our understanding of chromatin regulation and discuss how such regulation affects the binding of transcription factors as well as the initiation and elongation steps of transcription.
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            The DNA damage response: putting checkpoints in perspective.

             S Elledge,  B. Zhou (2000)
            The inability to repair DNA damage properly in mammals leads to various disorders and enhanced rates of tumour development. Organisms respond to chromosomal insults by activating a complex damage response pathway. This pathway regulates known responses such as cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis (programmed cell death), and has recently been shown to control additional processes including direct activation of DNA repair networks.
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              DNA double-strand breaks: signaling, repair and the cancer connection.

              To ensure the high-fidelity transmission of genetic information, cells have evolved mechanisms to monitor genome integrity. Cells respond to DNA damage by activating a complex DNA-damage-response pathway that includes cell-cycle arrest, the transcriptional and post-transcriptional activation of a subset of genes including those associated with DNA repair, and, under some circumstances, the triggering of programmed cell death. An inability to respond properly to, or to repair, DNA damage leads to genetic instability, which in turn may enhance the rate of cancer development. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that deficiencies in DNA-damage signaling and repair pathways are fundamental to the etiology of most, if not all, human cancers. Here we describe recent progress in our understanding of how cells detect and signal the presence and repair of one particularly important form of DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation-the DNA double-strand break (DSB). Moreover, we discuss how tumor suppressor proteins such as p53, ATM, Brca1 and Brca2 have been linked to such pathways, and how accumulating evidence is connecting deficiencies in cellular responses to DNA DSBs with tumorigenesis.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nucleic Acids Res
                Nucleic Acids Res
                nar
                nar
                Nucleic Acids Research
                Oxford University Press
                0305-1048
                1362-4962
                October 2008
                4 September 2008
                4 September 2008
                : 36
                : 17
                : 5678-5694
                Affiliations
                Institute of Medical Radiation Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen Medical School, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122 Essen, Germany
                Author notes
                *To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel: +49 201 7234152; Fax: +49 201 7235966; Email: georg.lliakis@ 123456uk-essen.de
                Article
                gkn550
                10.1093/nar/gkn550
                2553572
                18772227
                © 2008 The Author(s)

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

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                Survey and Summary

                Genetics

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