Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 63, Issue 11, pp 1266-1277

First online:

Light-driven DNA repair by photolyases

  • L. O. EssenAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Philipps University Email author 
  • , T. KlarAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Philipps University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


DNA photolyases are highly efficient light-driven DNA repair enzymes which revert the genomedamaging effects caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These enzymes occur in almost all living organisms exposed to sunlight, the only exception being placental mammals like humans and mice. Their catalytic mechanism employs the light-driven injection of an electron onto the DNA lesion to trigger the cleavage of cyclobutane- pyrimidine dimers or 6-4 photoproducts inside duplex DNA. Spectroscopic and structural analysis has recently yielded a concise view of how photolyases recognize these DNA lesions involving two neighboring bases, catalyze the repair reaction within a nanosecond and still achieve quantum efficiencies of close to one. Apart from these mechanistic aspects, the potential of DNA photolyases for the generation of highly UV-resistant organisms, or for skin cancer prevention by ectopical application is increasingly recognized.


DNA-photolyase cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimer (CPD) base flipping DNA repair electron transfer blue-light reactions ultraviolet radiation skin cancer