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DNA Repair (Amst). 2011 Jul 15;10(7):734-42. doi: 10.1016/j.dnarep.2011.04.029. Epub 2011 May 20.

Nucleotide excision repair in chromatin: damage removal at the drop of a HAT.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Haematology and Pathology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK.


In an earlier review of our understanding of the mechanism of nucleotide excision repair (NER) we examined the process with respect to how it occurs in chromatin [1]. We described how much of our mechanistic understanding of NER was derived from biochemical studies that analysed the repair reaction in DNA substrates not representative of that which exists in the living cell. We pointed out that our efforts to understand how NER operates in chromatin had been hampered in part because of the well-known inhibition of NER that occurs when DNA is assembled into nucleosomes and used as the substrate to examine the repair reaction in vitro. Despite this technical bottleneck, we summarized the biochemical, genetic and cell-based studies which have provided insights into the molecular mechanism of NER in the cellular context. More recently, we revisited the topic of how UV induced DNA damage is repaired in chromatin. In this review we examined the commonly held view that depicts a struggle in which the DNA repair machinery battles to overcome the inhibitory effect of chromatin during the repair process. We suggested that in this interpretation of events, the DNA repair mechanisms might be described as 'tilting at windmills': fighting an imaginary foe [2]. We surmised that this scenario was overly simplistic, and we described an emerging picture in which the DNA repair process and chromatin remodeling were mechanistically linked and were in fact functioning cooperatively to organize the efficient removal of DNA damage from the genome. Here we discuss the latest findings, which contribute to the idea that DNA damage induced changes to chromatin represent an important way in which the DNA repair process is initiated and organized throughout the genome to promote the efficient removal of damage in response to UV radiation.

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