Our lab studies mechanisms of DNA repair and how aberrant repair processes affect genomic stability, predisposition to cancer and immune system development. The projects in the lab are focused on characterizing the non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway of DNA double strand break repair, one of the two major pathways of double strand break repair in mammalian cells. The NHEJ factors are not only required for general DNA repair, but also play critical roles during early B and T lymphocyte development and in maintaining genomic stability. Thus, mutations in the NHEJ genes are known to cause human immunodeficiency disorders and are also associated with predisposition to cancer in human patients. We use the mouse as a model system to study the biological consequences of specific targeted mutations in the NHEJ genes and to learn more about the in vivo functions of these DNA repair factors. Currently, we are using a combination of biochemical, cellular and genetic approaches to gain additional insights into the specific functions and activities of the NHEJ factors during DNA repair and lymphocyte development. We are particularly interested further characterizing the NHEJ gene, Artemis, as recent evidence suggests that different mutations cause distinct disease outcomes in human patients. Specifically, inactivating mutations in Artemis cause a human severe combined immunodeficiency associated with extreme cellular radiosensitivity and hypomorphic mutations are associated with predisposition to lymphoid neoplasia.