Chromatin Structure Following UV-Induced DNA Damage—Repair or Death? Academic Article uri icon


  • In eukaryotes, DNA is compacted into a complex structure known as chromatin. The unravelling of DNA is a crucial step in DNA repair, replication, transcription and recombination as this allows access to DNA for these processes. Failure to package DNA into the nucleosome, the individual unit of chromatin, can lead to genomic instability, driving a cell into apoptosis, senescence, or cellular proliferation. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage causes destabilisation of chromatin integrity. UV irradiation induces DNA damage such as photolesions and subjects the chromatin to substantial rearrangements, causing the arrest of transcription forks and cell cycle arrest. Highly conserved processes known as nucleotide and base excision repair (NER and BER) then begin to repair these lesions. However, if DNA repair fails, the cell may be forced into apoptosis. The modification of various histones as well as nucleosome remodelling via ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling complexes are required not only to repair these UV-induced DNA lesions, but also for apoptosis signalling. Histone modifications and nucleosome remodelling in response to UV also lead to the recruitment of various repair and pro-apoptotic proteins. Thus, the way in which a cell responds to UV irradiation via these modifications is important in determining its fate. Failure of these DNA damage response steps can lead to cellular proliferation and oncogenic development, causing skin cancer, hence these chromatin changes are critical for a proper response to UV-induced injury.

publication date

  • November 1, 2011