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Mutat Res. 1990 Sep-Nov;236(2-3):147-60.

DNA photolyases: physical properties, action mechanism, and roles in dark repair.

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  • Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7260.


DNA photolyases catalyze the light-dependent repair of cis,syn-cyclobutane dipyrimidines (pyrimidine dimers). Although the phenomenon of enzymatic photoreactivation was first described 40 years ago and photolyases were the first enzymes shown unequivocally to effect DNA repair, it has only been in the last 8 years that sufficient quantities of the enzymes have been purified to permit detailed studies of their physical properties, identification of their intrinsic chromophores, and elucidation of the mechanisms of dimer recognition and photolysis. In addition several of the genes encoding these enzymes have now been cloned and sequenced. These studies have revealed remarkable functional and structural conservation among these evolutionarily ancient enzymes and have identified a new role for photolyases in dark-repair processes which has implications for the mechanism of nucleotide excision repair in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

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