Life or Death after a Break: What Determines the Choice?


DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) pose a constant threat to genomic integrity. Such DSBs need to be repaired to preserve homeostasis at both the cellular and organismal levels. Hence, the DNA damage response (DDR) has evolved to repair these lesions and limit their toxicity. The initiation of DNA repair depends on the activation of the DDR, and we know that the strength of DDR signaling may differentially affect cellular viability. However, we do not fully understand what determines the cytotoxicity of a DSB. Recent work has identified genomic location, (in)correct DNA repair pathway usage, and cell-cycle position as contributors to DSB-induced cytotoxicity. In this review, we discuss how these determinants affect cytotoxicity, highlight recent discoveries, and identify open questions that could help to improve our understanding about cell fate decisions after a DNA DSB.

More about this publication

Molecular cell
  • Volume 76
  • Issue nr. 2
  • Pages 346-358
  • Publication date 17-10-2019

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