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Quantifying DNA double-strand breaks induced by site-specific endonucleases in living cells by ligation-mediated purification

Abstract

Recent advances in our understanding of the management and repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) rely on the study of targeted DSBs that have been induced in living cells by the controlled activity of site-specific endonucleases, usually recombinant restriction enzymes. Here we describe a protocol for quantifying these endonuclease-induced DSBs; this quantification is essential to an interpretation of how DSBs are managed and repaired. A biotinylated double-stranded oligonucleotide is ligated to enzyme-cleaved genomic DNA, allowing the purification of the cleaved DNA on streptavidin beads. The extent of cleavage is then quantified either by quantitative PCR (qPCR) at a given site or at multiple sites by genome-wide techniques (e.g., microarrays or high-throughput sequencing). This technique, named ligation-mediated purification, can be performed in 2 d. It is more accurate and sensitive than existing alternative methods, and it is compatible with genome-wide analysis. It allows the amount of endonuclease-mediated breaks to be precisely compared between two conditions or across the genome, thereby giving insight into the influence of a given factor or of various chromatin contexts on local repair parameters.

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