The DNA damage response: making it safe to play with knives.
Damage to our genetic material is an ongoing threat to both our ability to faithfully transmit genetic information to our offspring as well as our own survival. To respond to these threats, eukaryotes have evolved the DNA damage response (DDR). The DDR is a complex signal transduction pathway that has the ability to sense DNA damage and transduce this information to the cell to influence cellular responses to DNA damage. Cells possess an arsenal of enzymatic tools capable of remodeling and repairing DNA; however, their activities must be tightly regulated in a temporal, spatial, and DNA lesion-appropriate fashion to optimize repair and prevent unnecessary and potentially deleterious alterations in the structure of DNA during normal cellular processes. This review will focus on how the DDR controls DNA repair and the phenotypic consequences of defects in these critical regulatory functions in mammals. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.