DNA Break Repair in Plants and Its Application for Genome Engineering

  • Carla Schmidt
  • Michael Pacher
  • Holger PuchtaEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1864)


Genome engineering is a biotechnological approach to precisely modify the genetic code of a given organism in order to change the context of an existing sequence or to create new genetic resources, e.g., for obtaining improved traits or performance. Efficient targeted genome alterations are mainly based on the induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) or adjacent single-strand breaks (SSBs). Naturally, all organisms continuously have to deal with DNA-damaging factors challenging the genetic integrity, and therefore a wide range of DNA repair mechanisms have evolved. A profound understanding of the different repair pathways is a prerequisite to control and enhance targeted gene modifications. DSB repair can take place by nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology-dependent repair (HDR). As the main outcome of NHEJ-mediated repair is accompanied by small insertions and deletions, it is applicable to specifically knock out genes or to rearrange linkage groups or whole chromosomes. The basic requirement for HDR is the presence of a homologous template; thus this process can be exploited for targeted integration of ectopic sequences into the plant genome. The development of different types of artificial site-specific nucleases allows for targeted DSB induction in the plant genome. Such synthetic nucleases have been used for both qualitatively studying DSB repair in vivo with respect to mechanistic differences and quantitatively in order to determine the role of key factors for NHEJ and HR, respectively. The conclusions drawn from these studies allow for a better understanding of genome evolution and help identifying synergistic or antagonistic genetic interactions while supporting biotechnological applications for transiently modifying the plant DNA repair machinery in favor of targeted genome engineering.

Key words

DSB repair HDR NHEJ Programmable nucleases Gene targeting Genome engineering 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Botanical Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany

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