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J Cell Physiol. 2007 Dec;213(3):642-8.

DNA damage and cellular differentiation: more questions than responses.

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  • 1Dulbecco Telethon Institute, Fondazione Santa Lucia/EBRI, Roma, Italy.


Studies on DNA damage responses in proliferating cells have revealed the relationship between sensing and repair of the DNA lesions and the regulation of the cell cycle, leading to the discovery and molecular characterization of the DNA damage-activated cell cycle checkpoints. Much less is known about the DNA damage response in progenitors of differentiated cells, in which cell cycle arrest is a critical signal to trigger the differentiation program, and in terminally differentiated cells, which are typically post-mitotic. How DNA lesions are detected, processed and repaired in these cells, the functional impact of DNA damage on transcription of differentiation-specific genes, how these events are coordinated at the molecular level, the consequence of defective DNA damage response on tissue-specific functions and its potential relationship with age-related diseases are currently open questions. In particular the biological complexity inherent to the global genome reprogramming of tissue progenitors, such as embryonic or adult stem cells, suggests the importance of an accurate DNA damage response at the transcription level in these cells to ensure the genomic integrity of regenerating tissues.

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