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DNA Repair in Mammalian Cells

Mismatched repair: variations on a theme


Complementary base pairing underlies the genetic template function of the DNA double helix. Therefore, to assure faithful DNA transactions, cells must adhere to a strict application of the Watson-Crick base pairing principle.Yet, mispairing does arise in DNA, most frequently as a result of DNA polymerase errors or base damage. These mismatches need be rectified to avoid mutation. Sometimes, however, mispairing is actively induced to trigger mutagenesis. This happens in activated B-lymphocytes, where the targeted generation and processing of G·U mismatches contributes to somatic hypermutation and antibody diversification. Non-mutagenic mismatches arise in heteroduplex intermediates of homologous recombination, and their processing helps restrict homeologous recombination. Depending on the type of mismatch and the biological context of its occurrence, cells must apply appropriate strategies of repair to properly control mutagenesis. This review will illustrate conceptual and functional challenges of cellular mismatch correction on typical examples of mutagenic base-base mismatches. (Part of a Multi-author Review)

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Correspondence to C. Kunz.

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Kunz, C., Saito, Y. & Schär, P. DNA Repair in Mammalian Cells. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 66, 1021–1038 (2009).

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  • DNA mismatches
  • DNA damage
  • mutagenesis
  • mismatch repair
  • base excision repair
  • somatic hypermutation