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DNA double-strand breaks repaired by non-homologous end joining display limited DNA end-processing and chromosomal mobility. By contrast, double-strand breaks undergoing homology-directed repair exhibit extensive processing and enhanced motion. The molecular basis of this movement is unknown. Here, using Xenopus laevis cell-free extracts and mammalian cells, we establish that nuclear actin, WASP, and the actin-nucleating ARP2/3 complex are recruited to damaged chromatin undergoing homology-directed repair. We demonstrate that nuclear actin polymerization is required for the migration of a subset of double-strand breaks into discrete sub-nuclear clusters. Actin-driven movements specifically affect double-strand breaks repaired by homology-directed repair in G2 cell cycle phase; inhibition of actin nucleation impairs DNA end-processing and homology-directed repair. By contrast, ARP2/3 is not enriched at double-strand breaks repaired by non-homologous end joining and does not regulate non-homologous end joining. Our findings establish that nuclear actin-based mobility shapes chromatin organization by generating repair domains that are essential for homology-directed repair in eukaryotic cells.

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Over the years, readers have expressed their interest in a collection of the Protein Spotlight articles in book form for themselves, their students, or as a source to refer to. A few months ago, many of our readers reacted very favourably to the possible launch...