Eukaryotic DNA ligases: Structural and functional insights

Tom Ellenberger, Alan E. Tomkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

202 Scopus citations


DNA ligases are required for DNA replication, repair, and recombination. In eukaryotes, there are three families of ATP-dependent DNA ligases. Members of the DNA ligase I and IV families are found in all eukaryotes, whereas DNA ligase III family members are restricted to vertebrates. These enzymes share a common catalytic region comprising a DNA-binding domain, a nucleotidyltransferase (NTase) domain, and an oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide binding (OB)-fold domain. The catalytic region encircles nicked DNA with each of the domains contacting the DNA duplex. The unique segments adjacent to the catalytic region of eukaryotic DNA ligases are involved in specific protein-protein interactions with a growing number of DNA replication and repair proteins. These interactions determine the specific cellular functions of the DNA ligase isozymes. In mammals, defects in DNA ligation have been linked with an increased incidence of cancer and neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-338
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual review of biochemistry
StatePublished - Sep 25 2008


  • Cancer
  • Genome stability
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Recombination
  • Repair
  • Replication

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