Human single-stranded DNA binding proteins: guardians of genome stability

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Single-stranded DNA-binding proteins (SSBs) are essential for maintaining the integrity of the genome in all organisms. All processes related to DNA, such as replication, excision, repair, and recombination, require the participation of SSBs whose oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide-binding (OB)-fold domain is responsible for the interaction with single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). For a long time, the heterotrimeric replication protein A (RPA) complex was believed to be the only nuclear SSB in eukaryotes to participate in ssDNA processing, while mitochondrial SSBs that are conserved with prokaryotic SSBs were shown to be essential for maintaining genome stability in eukaryotic mitochondria. In recent years, two new proteins, hSSB1 and hSSB2 (human SSBs 1/2), were identified and have better sequence similarity to bacterial and archaeal SSBs than RPA. This review summarizes the current understanding of these human SSBs in DNA damage repair and in cell-cycle checkpoint activation following DNA damage, as well as their relationships with cancer.

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