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FEBS Lett. 2010 Sep 10;584(17):3717-24. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2010.05.021. Epub 2010 May 21.

Focus on histone variant H2AX: to be or not to be.

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Department of Experimental Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Phosphorylation of histone variant H2AX at serine 139, named gammaH2AX, has been widely used as a sensitive marker for DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). gammaH2AX is required for the accumulation of many DNA damage response (DDR) proteins at DSBs. Thus it is believed to be the principal signaling protein involved in DDR and to play an important role in DNA repair. However, only mild defects in DNA damage signaling and DNA repair were observed in H2AX-deficient cells and animals. Such findings prompted us and others to explore H2AX-independent mechanisms in DNA damage response. Here, we will review recent advances in our understanding of H2AX-dependent and independent DNA damage signaling and repair pathways in mammalian cells.

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