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DNA Damage, Repair, and Diseases

Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1155/s1110724302001985
  • Editorial
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Physics


DNA Damage, Repair, and Diseases © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology • 2:2 (2002) 45–45 • PII. S1110724302001985 • EDITORIAL DNADamage, Repair, and Diseases Lisa Wiesmu¨ller,1 James M. Ford,2 and Robert H. Schiestl3 1University of Hamburg, Germany 2Stanford University School of Medicine , California, USA 3UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health, California, USA DNA is the essential carrier of genetic information in all living cells. How is the huge amount of DNA in organ- isms from bacteria to humans maintained and protected from the ravages of noxious agents in the environment? The chemical stability of the DNA molecule is not unusually great, DNA undergoes several types of spontaneous modifi- cations, and it can also react with many physical and chemi- cal agents, of which some are endogenous products of the cel- lular metabolism (eg, reactive oxygen species) while others, including ionizing radiation and ultraviolet light, are threats from the external environment. The resulting alterations of DNA structure are generally incompatible with its essential role in preservation and transmission of genetic information. Damage to DNA can cause genetic alterations, and if genes that control cell growth are involved, these mutations can lead to the development of cancer. Of course, DNA damage may also result in cell death which can have serious conse- quences for the organism of which the cell is a part; for ex- ample, loss of irreplaceable neurons in the brain. Accumula- tion of damaged DNA has also been considered to contribute to some of the features of aging. It is not surprising that a complex set of cellular surveillance and repair mechanisms has evolved to reverse the potentially deleterious damage that would otherwise destroy the precious blueprint for life. Some of these DNA repair systems are so important that life cannot be sustained without them. An increasing number of human hereditary diseases that

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