High-resolution, ultrasensitive and quantitative DNA double-strand break labeling in eukaryotic cells using i-BLESS

Anna Biernacka, Magdalena Skrzypczak, Yingjie Zhu, Philippe Pasero, Maga Rowicka, Krzysztof Ginalski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are implicated in various physiological processes, such as class-switch recombination or crossing-over during meiosis, but also present a threat to genome stability. Extensive evidence shows that DSBs are a primary source of chromosome translocations or deletions, making them a major cause of genomic instability, a driving force of many diseases of civilization, such as cancer. Therefore, there is a great need for a precise, sensitive, and universal method for DSB detection, to enable both the study of their mechanisms of formation and repair as well as to explore their therapeutic potential. We provide a detailed protocol for our recently developed ultrasensitive and genome-wide DSB detection method: immobilized direct in situ breaks labeling, enrichment on streptavidin and next-generation sequencing (i-BLESS), which relies on the encapsulation of cells in agarose beads and labeling breaks directly and specifically with biotinylated linkers. i-BLESS labels DSBs with single-nucleotide resolution, allows detection of ultrarare breaks, takes 5 d to complete, and can be applied to samples from any organism, as long as a sufficient amount of starting material can be obtained. We also describe how to combine i-BLESS with our qDSB-Seq approach to enable the measurement of absolute DSB frequencies per cell and their precise genomic coordinates at the same time. Such normalization using qDSB-Seq is especially useful for the evaluation of spontaneous DSB levels and the estimation of DNA damage induced rather uniformly in the genome (e.g., by irradiation or radiomimetic chemotherapeutics).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1034-1061
Number of pages28
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'High-resolution, ultrasensitive and quantitative DNA double-strand break labeling in eukaryotic cells using i-BLESS'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this