Genomic integrity is most threatened by double-strand breaks, which, if left unrepaired, lead to carcinogenesis or cell death. The cell generates a network of protein–protein signaling interactions that emanate from the DNA damage which are now recognized as a rich basis for anti-cancer therapy development. Deciphering the structures of signaling proteins has been an uphill task owing to their large size and complex domain organization. Recent advances in mammalian protein expression/purification and cryo-EM-based structure determination have led to significant progress in our understanding of these large multidomain proteins. This review is an overview of the structural principles that underlie some of the key signaling proteins that function at the double-strand break site. We also discuss some plausible ideas that could be considered for future structural approaches to visualize and build a more complete understanding of protein dynamics at the break site.

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