Author(s): Davis L, Maizels N
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Abstract DNA nicks are the most common form of DNA damage, and if unrepaired can give rise to genomic instability. In human cells, nicks are efficiently repaired via the single-strand break repair pathway, but relatively little is known about the fate of nicks not processed by that pathway. Here we show that homology-directed repair (HDR) at nicks occurs via a mechanism distinct from HDR at double-strand breaks (DSBs). HDR at nicks, but not DSBs, is associated with transcription and is eightfold more efficient at a nick on the transcribed strand than at a nick on the nontranscribed strand. HDR at nicks can proceed by a pathway dependent upon canonical HDR factors RAD51 and BRCA2; or by an efficient alternative pathway that uses either ssDNA or nicked dsDNA donors and that is strongly inhibited by RAD51 and BRCA2. Nicks generated by either I-AniI or the CRISPR/Cas9(D10A) nickase are repaired by the alternative HDR pathway with little accompanying mutagenic end-joining, so this pathway may be usefully applied to genome engineering. These results suggest that alternative HDR at nicks may be stimulated in physiological contexts in which canonical RAD51/BRCA2-dependent HDR is compromised or down-regulated, which occurs frequently in tumors.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in International Journal of Sensor Networks and Data Communications