DNA double-strand break repair: a tale of pathway choices

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Deoxyribonucleic acid double-strand breaks (DSBs) are cytotoxic lesions that must be repaired either through homologous recombination (HR) or non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways. DSB repair is critical for genome integrity, cellular homeostasis and also constitutes the biological foundation for radiotherapy and the majority of chemotherapy. The choice between HR and NHEJ is a complex yet not completely understood process that will entail more future efforts. Herein we review our current understandings about how the choice is made over an antagonizing balance between p53-binding protein 1 and breast cancer 1 in the context of cell cycle stages, downstream effects, and distinct chromosomal histone marks. These exciting areas of research will surely bring more mechanistic insights about DSB repair and be utilized in the clinical settings.

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