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Chromatin dynamics at DNA breaks: what, how and why?

1 CNRS, UMR 6290, Institut Génétique et Développement de Rennes, Rennes, France
2 Université de Rennes 1, Structure fédérative de recherche Biosit, Rennes, France
3 Department of Physiological Chemistry, Adolf Butenandt Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

Special Issue: Chromatin and Epigenetics

Chromatin has a complex, dynamic architecture in the interphase nucleus, which regulates the accessibility of the underlying DNA and plays a key regulatory role in all the cellular functions using DNA as a template, such as replication, transcription or DNA damage repair. Here, we review the recent progresses in the understanding of the interplay between chromatin architecture and DNA repair mechanisms. Several reports based on live cell fluorescence imaging show that the activation of the DNA repair machinery is associated with major changes in the compaction state and the mobility of chromatin. We discuss the functional consequences of these changes in yeast and mammals in the light of the different repair pathways utilized by these organisms. In the final section of this review, we show how future developments in high-resolution light microscopy and chromatin modelling by polymer physics should contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between the structural changes in chromatin and the activity of the repair processes.
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