Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is at a constant risk of damage from endogenous substances, environmental radiation, and chemical stressors. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) pose a significant threat to genomic integrity and cell survival. There are two major pathways for DSB repair: nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination (HR). The extent of DNA end resection, which determines the length of the 3′ single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) overhang, is the primary factor that determines whether repair is carried out via NHEJ or HR. NHEJ, which does not require a 3′ ssDNA tail, occurs throughout the cell cycle. 53BP1 and the cofactors PTIP or RIF1-shieldin protect the broken DNA end, inhibit long-range end resection and thus promote NHEJ. In contrast, HR mainly occurs during the S/G2 phase and requires DNA end processing to create a 3′ tail that can invade a homologous region, ensuring faithful gene repair. BRCA1 and the cofactors CtIP, EXO1, BLM/DNA2, and the MRE11–RAD50–NBS1 (MRN) complex promote DNA end resection and thus HR. DNA resection is influenced by the cell cycle, the chromatin environment, and the complexity of the DNA end break. Herein, we summarize the key factors involved in repair pathway selection for DSBs and discuss recent related publications.

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