, Volume 127, Issue 3, pp 291–300 | Cite as

The response to DNA damage in heterochromatin domains

  • Anna Fortuny
  • Sophie E. Polo


Eukaryotic genomes are organized into chromatin, divided into structurally and functionally distinct euchromatin and heterochromatin compartments. The high level of compaction and the abundance of repeated sequences in heterochromatin pose multiple challenges for the maintenance of genome stability. Cells have evolved sophisticated and highly controlled mechanisms to overcome these constraints. Here, we summarize recent findings on how the heterochromatic state influences DNA damage formation, signaling, and repair. By focusing on distinct heterochromatin domains in different eukaryotic species, we highlight the heterochromatin contribution to the compartmentalization of DNA damage repair in the cell nucleus and to the repair pathway choice. We also describe the diverse chromatin alterations associated with the DNA damage response in heterochromatin domains and present our current understanding of their regulatory mechanisms. Finally, we discuss the biological significance and the evolutionary conservation of these processes.


Chromatin reorganization DNA damage repair Heterochromatin Nuclear domains 


Funding information

Work in S.E.P. lab is supported by the European Research Council under Grant ERC-2013-StG-336427 “EpIn”; “Who am I?” laboratory of excellence under Grant ANR-11-LABX-0071. S.P. is an EMBO Young Investigator. A.F. is funded by an international PhD fellowship from Sorbonne Paris Cité University.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epigenetics and Cell Fate Centre, UMR7216 CNRSParis Diderot UniversityParisFrance

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