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The meaning of DNA damage

Injuries to DNA that introduce deviations from its normal, intact structure and which may, if left unrepaired, result in a mutation or a block of DNA replication. These deviations may be caused by physical or chemical agents and occur by natural or unnatural, introduced circumstances. They include the introduction of illegitimate bases during replication or by deamination or other modification of bases; the loss of a base from the DNA backbone leaving an abasic site; single-strand breaks; double strand breaks; and intrastrand (pyrimidine dimers) or interstrand crosslinking. Damage can often be repaired. If the damage is extensive, it can induce apoptosis.

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