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DNA Repair (Amst). 2002 Jan 22;1(1):59-75.

DNA repair in terminally differentiated cells.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA.


Terminally differentiated cells do not replicate their genomic DNA, and could therefore dispense with the task of removing DNA damage from the non-essential bulk of their genome, as long as they are able to maintain the integrity of the genes that must be expressed. There is increasing experimental evidence that this is indeed the case, at least for some repair pathways such as nucleotide excision repair (NER). In this review, we examine a number of terminally differentiated cell systems in which it has been demonstrated that DNA repair is attenuated at the global genome level, but maintained in expressed genes. How these cells manage to repair transcribed genes is not yet fully elucidated, but there are indications that the transcription-coupled repair (TCR) pathway could maintain integrity of the transcribed strand (TS) in the active genes. We have observed in neurons that the non-transcribed strand (NTS) of active genes is also well repaired, a phenomenon that we have named differentiation-associated repair (DAR). It is conceivable that DAR is necessary to maintain the integrity of the template strand that is needed by TCR to complete the repair of lesions in the TS of essential expressed genes with high fidelity.

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