Emerging models for DNA repair: Dictyostelium discoideum as a model for nonhomologous end-joining.
Pears CJ., Lakin ND.
DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) are a particularly cytotoxic variety of DNA lesion that can be repaired by homologous recombination (HR) or nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ). HR utilises sequences homologous to the damage DNA template to facilitate repair. In contrast, NHEJ does not require homologous sequences for repair but instead functions by directly re-joining DNA ends. These pathways are critical to resolve DSBs generated intentionally during processes such as meiotic and site-specific recombination. However, they are also utilised to resolve potentially pathological DSBs generated by mutagens and errors during DNA replication. The importance of DSB repair is underscored by the findings that defects in these pathways results in chromosome instability that contributes to a variety of disease states including malignancy. The general principles of NHEJ are conserved in eukaryotes. As such, relatively simple model organisms have been instrumental in identifying components of these pathways and providing a mechanistic understanding of repair that has subsequently been applied to vertebrates. However, certain components of the NHEJ pathway are absent or show limited conservation in the most commonly used invertebrate models exploited to study DNA repair. Recently, however, it has become apparent that vertebrate DNA repair pathway components, including those involved in NHEJ, are unusually conserved in the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Traditionally, this genetically tractable organism has been exploited to study the molecular basis of cell type specification, cell motility and chemotaxis. Here we discuss the use of this organism as an additional model to study DNA repair, with specific reference to NHEJ.