DOI: 10.1083/jcb.202401085 ISSN: 0021-9525

Broken chromosomes heading into mitosis: More than one way to patch a flat tire

C. Luke Messer, Donald T. Fox
  • Cell Biology

A cell dealing with a broken chromosome in mitosis is like a driver dealing with a flat tire on the highway: damage repair must occur under non-ideal circumstances. Mitotic chromosome breaks encounter problems related to structures called micronuclei. These aberrant nuclei are linked to cell death, mutagenesis, and cancer. In the last few years, a flurry of studies illuminated two mechanisms that prevent mitotic problems related to micronuclei. One mechanism prevents micronuclei from forming during mitosis and involves DNA Polymerase Theta, a DNA repair regulator that patches up broken mitotic chromosomes. A second mechanism is activated after micronuclei form and then rupture, and involves CIP2A and TOPBP1 proteins, which patch micronuclear fragments to promote their subsequent mitotic segregation. Here, we review recent progress in this field of mitotic DNA damage and discuss why multiple mechanisms exist. Future studies in this exciting area will reveal new DNA break responses and inform therapeutic strategies.

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