Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

DNA damage response and DNA repair – dog as a model?

Nicole Grosse12, Barbara van Loon2 and Carla Rohrer Bley1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Radiation Oncology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute for Veterinary Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:203  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-203

Published: 19 March 2014



Companion animals like dogs frequently develop tumors with age and similarly to human malignancies, display interpatient tumoral heterogeneity. Tumors are frequently characterized with regard to their mutation spectra, changes in gene expression or protein levels. Among others, these changes affect proteins involved in the DNA damage response (DDR), which served as a basis for the development of numerous clinically relevant cancer therapies. Even though the effects of different DNA damaging agents, as well as DDR kinetics, have been well characterized in mammalian cells in vitro, very little is so far known about the kinetics of DDR in tumor and normal tissues in vivo.


Due to (i) the similarities between human and canine genomes, (ii) the course of spontaneous tumor development, as well as (iii) common exposure to environmental agents, canine tumors are potentially an excellent model to study DDR in vivo. This is further supported by the fact that dogs show approximately the same rate of tumor development with age as humans. Though similarities between human and dog osteosarcoma, as well as mammary tumors have been well established, only few studies using canine tumor samples addressed the importance of affected DDR pathways in tumor progression, thus leaving many questions unanswered.


Studies in humans showed that misregulated DDR pathways play an important role during tumor development, as well as in treatment response. Since dogs are proposed to be a good tumor model in many aspects of cancer research, we herein critically investigate the current knowledge of canine DDR and discuss (i) its future potential for studies on the in vivo level, as well as (ii) its possible translation to veterinary and human medicine.

Canine and human tumors; DNA damage response; DNA repair