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The Repair of DNA Damages/Modifications During the Maturation of the Immune System: Lessons from Human Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders and Animal Models

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0065-2776(05)87007-5
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract The immune system is the site of various genotoxic stresses that occur during its maturation as well as during immune responses. These DNA lesions/modifications are primarily the consequences of specific physiological processes such as the V(D)J recombination, the immunoglobulin class switch recombination (CSR), and the generation of somatic hypermutations (SHMs) within Ig variable domains. The DNA lesions can be introduced either by specific factors (RAG1 and RAG2 in the case of V(D)J recombination and AID in the case of CSR and SHM) or during the various phases of cellular proliferation and cellular activation. All these DNA lesions are taken care of by the diverse DNA repair machineries of the cell. Several animal models as well as human conditions have established the critical importance of these DNA lesions/modifications and their repair in the physiology of the immune system. Indeed their defects have consequences ranging from immune deficiency to development of immune malignancy. The survey of human pathology has been highly instrumental in the past in identifying key factors involved in the generation of DNA modifications (AID for the Ig CSR and generation of SHM) or the repair of specific DNA damages (Artemis for V(D)J recombination). Defects in factors involved in the cell cycle checkpoints following DNA damage also have deleterious consequences on the immune system. The continuous survey of human diseases characterized by primary immunodeficiency associated with increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation should help identify other important DNA repair factors essential for the development and maintenance of the immune system.

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