Until recently, DNA damage arising from physiological DNA metabolism was considered a detrimental by-product for cells. However, an increasing amount of evidence has shown that DNA damage could have a positive role in transcription activation. In particular, DNA damage has been detected in transcriptional elements following different stimuli. These physiological DNA breaks are thought to be instrumental for the correct expression of genomic loci through different mechanisms. In this regard, although a plethora of methods are available to precisely map transcribed regions and transcription start sites, commonly used techniques for mapping DNA breaks lack sufficient resolution and sensitivity to draw a robust correlation between DNA damage generation and transcription. Recently, however, several methods have been developed to map DNA damage at single-nucleotide resolution, thus providing a new set of tools to correlate DNA damage and transcription. Here, we review how DNA damage can positively regulate transcription initiation, the current techniques for mapping DNA breaks at high resolution, and how these techniques can benefit future studies of DNA damage and transcription.


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