The NHEJ (non-homologous end-joining) pathway is one of the major mechanisms for repairing DSBs (double-strand breaks) that occur in genomic DNA. In common with eukaryotic organisms, many prokaryotes possess a conserved NHEJ apparatus that is essential for the repair of DSBs arising in the stationary phase of the cell cycle. Although the bacterial NHEJ complex is much more minimal than its eukaryotic counterpart, both pathways share a number of common mechanistic features. The relative simplicity of the prokaryotic NHEJ complex makes it a tractable model system for investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of DSB repair. The present review describes recent advances in our understanding of prokaryotic end-joining, focusing primarily on biochemical, structural and cellular aspects of the mycobacterial NHEJ repair pathway.

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