To flag neurons that have experienced genotoxic stress, researchers developed an in vivo sensor using an adeno-associated viral vector, called PRISM. Because a cell’s DNA damage response (DDR)—which activates in response to stressors such as environmental toxins or the buildup of misfolded proteins—also responds to invading pathogens, PRISM has an easier time transfecting cells whose damage response mechanisms are preoccupied with existing DNA damage. Once inside, the virus hijacks the neuron’s DNA replication machinery, which reverts an engineered frameshift mutation in the virus and thereby prompts the production of a fluorescent protein that can be observed via microscopy.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity

A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.

A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.

DNA double-stranded breaks
Broken DNA
DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new tool called PRISM draws on virus-host interactions and a DNA repair pathway to help researchers visualize how cellular stress may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
literature infographic dna repair
Without This Enzyme, Insertions Thrive in the Yeast Genome
Katarina Zimmer | Mar 1, 2019
A study underscores the importance of Dna2 in maintaining the integrity of the genetic code.
the literature infographic dna repairing
Infographic: How Stray DNA Can Land in Double-Strand Breaks
Katarina Zimmer | Mar 1, 2019
A study on yeast illuminates how insertions may occur.
Base Editing Now Able to Convert Adenine-Thymine to Guanine-Cytosine
Catherine Offord | Oct 25, 2017
With the arrival of a new class of single-nucleotide editors, researchers can target the most common type of pathogenic SNP in humans.
Brain Activity Breaks DNA
Sabrina Richards | Mar 24, 2013
Researchers find that temporary double-stranded DNA breaks commonly result from normal neuron activation—but expression of an Alzheimer’s-linked protein increases the damage.