DNA Repair in Mammalian Mitochondria: Much More Than We Thought?

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For many years, the repair of most damage in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was thought limited to short-patch base excision repair (SP-BER), which replaces a single nucleotide by the sequential action of DNA glycosylases, an apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP) endonuclease, the mitochondrial DNA polymerase γ, an abasic lyase activity, and mitochondrial DNA ligase. However, the likely array of lesions inflicted on mtDNA by oxygen radicals and the possibility of replication errors and disruptions indicated that such a restricted repair repertoire would be inadequate. Recent studies have considerably expanded our knowledge of mtDNA repair to include long-patch base excision repair (LP-BER), mismatch repair, and homologous recombination and nonhomologous end-joining. In addition, elimination of mutagenic 8-oxodeoxyguanosine triphosphate (8-oxodGTP) helps prevent cell death due to the accumulation of this oxidation product in mtDNA. Although it was suspected for many years that irreparably damaged mtDNA might be targeted for degradation, only recently was clear evidence provided for this hypothesis. Therefore, multiple DNA repair pathways and controlled degradation of mtDNA function together to maintain the integrity of mitochondrial genome. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 51:417-426, 2010.

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