Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A scanner for hereditary defects

Our genetic material is constantly exposed to damage, which the body’s own proteins normally repair.

One of these proteins works like a scanner, continually scouring the genetic material for signs of damage. Researchers from the Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich see new possibilities in this damage recognition for improving cancer treatment in humans.

The XPD scanner (green) in close contact with a damaged point (red) on the DNA double helix. The damaged DNA strand lies in a deep pocket of the protein to enable a ferrous sensor (Fe) to come into contact with the damaged point, thereby halting the protein as it moves along the DNA.
Picture: UZH

Our DNA is constantly under attack from UV light, toxins and metabolic processes. Proteins and enzymes continually repair the damaged DNA. Unrecognized and therefore unrepaired damage to the genetic material, however, accelerates aging and causes cancer and genetic disorders. A team headed by veterinary pharmacologist and toxicologist Hanspeter Nägeli has now discovered that the protein XPD plays a key role in locating damaged DNA.

XPD protein as scanner

Genetic information is stored on approximately three billion base pairs of adenine/thymine or cytosine/guanine in the thread-like DNA double helix. The researchers reveal that the XPD protein works like a scanner that glides along the DNA double helix, scouring the bases for signs of damage. As soon as one of the protein’s ferrous sensors encounters damage as it moves along, it is stopped, thereby marking damaged spots in need of repair. Besides patching up DNA, XPD is also involved in cell division and gene expression, thus making it one of the most versatile cell proteins.

Basis for possible courses of therapy

While repairing the DNA protects healthy body tissue from damage to the genetic material, however, it diminishes the impact of many chemotherapeutic substances against cancer. “Damage recognition using XPD opens up new possibilities to stimulate or suppress DNA repair according to the requirements and target tissue,” explains Hanspeter Nägeli. The results could thus aid the development of new cancer treatments.

Nadine Mathieu, Nina Kaczmarek, Peter Rüthemann, Andreas Luch, Hanspeter Naegeli. DNA quality control by a lesion sensor pocket of the xeroderma pigmentosum group D helicase subunit of TFIIH. Current Biology. January 24, 2013. doi: 10.1016/
Prof. Dr. Hanspeter Nägeli
Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 87 63

Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>