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J Mol Histol. 2006 Sep;37(5-7):225-38. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

Nucleotide excision repair and cancer.

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Department of Dermatology and Venerology, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Von-Siebold-Strasse 3, 37075 Goettingen, Germany.


Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is the most versatile and best studied DNA repair system in humans. NER can repair a variety of bulky DNA damages including UV-light induced DNA photoproducts. NER consists of a multistep process in which the DNA lesion is recognized and demarcated by DNA unwinding. Then, an approximately 28 bp DNA damage containing oligonucleotide is excised followed by gap filling using the undamaged DNA strand as a template. The consequences of defective NER are demonstrated by three rare autosomal-recessive NER-defective syndromes: xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), Cockayne syndrome (CS), and trichothiodystrophy (TTD). XP patients show severe sun sensitivity, freckling in sun exposed skin, and develop skin cancers already during childhood. CS patients exhibit sun sensitivity, severe neurologic abnormalities, and cachectic dwarfism. Clinical symptoms of TTD patients include sun sensitivity, freckling in sun exposed skin areas, and brittle sulfur-deficient hair. In contrast to XP patients, CS and TTD patients are not skin cancer prone. Studying these syndromes can increase the knowledge of skin cancer development including cutaneous melanoma as well as basal and squamous cell carcinoma in general that may lead to new preventional and therapeutic anticancer strategies in the normal population.

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