Breaks in both DNA strands are a particularly dangerous threat to genome stability. At a DNA double-strand break (DSB), potentially lost sequence information cannot be recovered from the same DNA molecule. However, simple repair by joining two broken ends, though inherently error prone, is preferable to leaving ends broken and capable of causing genome rearrangements. To avoid DSB-induced genetic disinformation and disruption of vital processes, such as replication and transcription, cells possess robust mechanisms to repair DSBs. Because all breaks are not created equal, the particular repair mechanism used depends largely on what is possible and needed based on the structure of the broken DNA. We argue that although categorizing different DSB repair mechanisms along pathways and subpathways can be conceptually useful, in cells flexible and reversible interactions among DSB repair factors form a web from which a nonpredetermined path to repair for any number of different DNA breaks will emerge. Copyright

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Department of Radiation Oncology

Wyman, C., & Kanaar, R. (2006). DNA double-strand break repair: All's well that ends well. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.40.110405.090451