Visualization of DNA Repair Proteins Interaction by Immunofluorescence

Bárbara de la Peña Avalos, Eloïse Dray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mammalian cells are constantly exposed to chemicals, radiations, and naturally occurring metabolic by-products, which create specific types of DNA insults. Genotoxic agents can damage the DNA backbone, break it, or modify the chemical nature of individual bases. Following DNA insult, DNA damage response (DDR) pathways are activated and proteins involved in the repair are recruited. A plethora of factors are involved in sensing the type of damage and activating the appropriate repair response. Failure to correctly activate and recruit DDR factors can lead to genomic instability, which underlies many human pathologies including cancer. Studies of DDR proteins can provide insights into genotoxic drug response and cellular mechanisms of drug resistance. There are two major ways of visualizing proteins in vivo: direct observation, by tagging the protein of interest with a fluorescent protein and following it by live imaging, or indirect immunofluorescence on fixed samples. While visualization of fluorescently tagged proteins allows precise monitoring over time, direct tagging in N- or C-terminus can interfere with the protein localization or function. Observation of proteins in their unmodified, endogenous version is preferred. When DNA repair proteins are recruited to the DNA insult, their concentration increases locally and they form groups, or "foci", that can be visualized by indirect immunofluorescence using specific antibodies. Although detection of protein foci does not provide a definitive proof of direct interaction, co-localization of proteins in cells indicates that they regroup to the site of damage and can inform of the sequence of events required for complex formation. Careful analysis of foci spatial overlap in cells expressing wild type or mutant versions of a protein can provide precious clues on functional domains important for DNA repair function. Last, co-localization of proteins indicates possible direct interactions that can be verified by co-immunoprecipitation in cells, or direct pulldown using purified proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number160
StatePublished - Jun 26 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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