Oxidative DNA damage in neurons: Implication of Ku in neuronal homeostasis and survival

Daniela De Zio, Matteo Bordi, Francesco Cecconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oxidative DNA damage is produced by reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are generated by exogenous and endogenous sources and continuously challenge the cell. One of the most severe DNA lesions is the double-strand break (DSB), which is mainly repaired by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway in mammals. NHEJ directly joins the broken ends, without using the homologous template. Ku70/86 heterodimer, also known as Ku, is the first component of NHEJ as it directly binds DNA and recruits other NHEJ factors to promote the repair of the broken ends. Neurons are particularly metabolically active, displaying high rates of transcription and translation, which are associated with high metabolic and mitochondrial activity as well as oxygen consumption. In such a way, excessive oxygen radicals can be generated and constantly attack DNA, thereby producing several lesions. This condition, together with defective DNA repair systems, can lead to a high accumulation of DNA damage resulting in neurodegenerative processes and defects in neurodevelopment. In light of recent findings, in this paper, we will discuss the possible implication of Ku in neurodevelopment and in mediating the DNA repair dysfunction observed in certain neurodegenerations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number752420
JournalInternational Journal of Cell Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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