DNA replication, repair and recombination

Make no mistake about it

Every human cell contains roughly two meters’ worth of DNA. As a consequence of this great length, over the course of an average human lifetime, the body will have synthesized enough DNA to reach about halfway to the nearest star, two light-years away! How cells manage to make this extraordinary amount of DNA while avoiding errors that can lead to mutation and disease remains one of the foremost questions in molecular biology. This 2016 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting symposium will focus on how DNA replication, repair and recombination is done right.

First things first

In the first session, speakers will discuss how the process of replication is initiated and terminated properly. Although replication initiation is extremely complex, we now know enough about the players and their regulation to be able to recapitulate many aspects of this critical event using purified components in a test tube. The growing lines of evidence also point to sophisticated mechanisms that tightly control replication termination.

How do you use your sister to repair yourself?

During and immediately after DNA replication, cells have an option of repairing mistakes using the just-duplicated sister chromatid to avoid permanent changes to the genetic material. In the second session, we will discuss how recombination-based repair is regulated in the presence and absence of a sister. DNA gymnastics, anyone?

Fix it up

A veritable hive of proteins swarms around DNA, looking for mistakes and patching them up. The third session will highlight recent structural and mechanistic insights into the fundamental processes that cells use to recognize and repair mistakes. Mechanisms for cutting and pasting entire DNA segments, such as occurs during transposition, also will be discussed.

What happens when replication proceeds through a difficult terrain?

In the final session, we will discuss what happens when replication forks become stressed or stall at roadblocks, such as damaged bases, nicks or covalent crosslinks. Along the way, we will sneak in some discussion of chromatin and discuss what happens to histones during replication and repair.


James Berger

James Berger, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Agata Smogorzewska

Agata Smogorzewska, The Rockefeller University