The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 60: 229 - 236 (2016)

Vol 60, Issue 7-8-9

Special Issue: Cell-free Extracts in Development & Cancer Research

Cell-free Xenopus egg extracts for studying DNA damage response pathways

Published: 2 May 2016

Steven Cupello, Christine Richardson and Shan Yan*

Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA


In response to a variety of DNA replication stress or DNA damaging agents, the DNA damage response (DDR) pathways are triggered for cells to coordinate DNA repair, cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis, and senescence. Cell-free Xenopus egg extracts, derived from the eggs of African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis), have been widely used for studies concerning DDR pathways. In this review, we focus on how different experimental systems have been established using Xenopus egg extracts to investigate the DDR pathways that are activated in response to DNA replication stress, double-strand breaks (DSBs), inter-strand crosslinks (ICLs), and oxidative stress. We summarize how molecular details of DDR pathways are dissected by the mechanistic studies with Xenopus egg extracts. We also provide an update on the regulation of translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) polymerases (Pol ĸ and REV1) in the DDR pathways. A better understanding of DDR pathways using Xenopus egg extracts has opened new avenues for future cancer therapeutics. Finally, we offer our perspectives of future directions for studies of DDR pathways with Xenopus egg extracts.


Xenopus egg extracts, DNA damage response, ATR-Chk1, ATM-Chk2, TLS

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