Timeline: Sending Out an SOS

Cell 162(6):1432 (2015) PMID 26359993

“Walked out this morning, don't believe what I saw/Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore”–Sting. When looking at the myriad changes in the transcriptome and proteome during the response to DNA damage, it seems like hundreds of billions of bottles might be washing across your computer screen. Focusing on just the proteomics datasets describing the dynamics of protein modifications that occur in response to DNA damage, there are tens of thousands of post-translational modifications, which you can read about in many papers, including several from Stephen Elledge, one of the recipients of the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Although prokaryotic and eukaryotic DNA damage responses differ in many ways, post-translational modifications are a key feature of both responses. In bacteria, cleavage of the transcriptional repressor LexA activates a gene expression program known as the SOS response, which brings us to the other recipient of the award, Evelyn Witkin. This Timeline highlights when some of the key concepts in the DNA damage response were reported, and you can learn more about the contributions of Witkin, Elledge, and many others to the development of these concepts in the Benchmark Essay by Jim Haber.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.020