Washington, M. Todd Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
Vasquez, Karen M. Departments of Therapeutic Radiology and Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Glazer, Peter M. Departments of Therapeutic Radiology and Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:March 2018
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- DNA damage
- Direct reversal of damage
- Base excision repair
- Nucleotide excision repair
- Mismatch repair
- Recombination repair
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The set of biochemical processes that fixes DNA molecules when they are damaged. The processes involved in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) repair are important because DNA (Fig. 1) is the genetic material that directs the production of all the proteins and ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules needed for biochemical and cellular activities. DNA is constantly subject to damage by both internal (endogenous) and external (exogenous) assaults. This damage can lead to blocks in transcription and replication. Blocks in replication are particularly problematic because these can lead to mutations, which are permanent alterations to the genetic material. The accumulation of such mutations is one of the major driving forces of cancer, and several cancer-prone diseases are caused by defects in DNA repair pathways. Because of the importance of fixing DNA damage before it interferes with transcription and replication, several pathways of DNA repair have evolved. These pathways are present to varying extents in all organisms, from bacteria to higher plants and animals. See also: Biochemistry; Cancer; Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); Genetics; Mutation; Nucleic acid; Protein; Ribonucleic acid (RNA)
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