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Resolution of complex ends by non-homologous end joining - better to be lucky than good?

Natasha Tiffany Strande, Crystal Ann Waters and Dale A Ramsden*

Author Affiliations

Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA

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Genome Integrity 2012, 3:10  doi:10.1186/2041-9414-3-10

Published: 31 December 2012


The non-homologous end joining pathway is essential for efficient repair of chromosome double strand breaks. This pathway consequently plays a key role in cellular resistance to break-inducing exogenous agents, as well as in the developmentally-programmed recombinations that are required for adaptive immunity. Chromosome breaks often have complex or “dirty” end structures that can interfere with the critical ligation step in this pathway; we review here how non-homologous end joining resolves such breaks.

Double strand break repair; non-homologous end joining; DNA damage; Ionizing radiation