Researchers have long known that some repetitive DNA sequences can make human chromosomes “fragile,” i.e. appearing constricted or even broken during cell divisions.
Scientists at Tufts University have found that one such DNA repeat not only stalls the cell's replication process but also thwarts the cell's capacity to repair and restart it. The researchers focused on this CGG repeat because it is associated with hereditary neurological disorders such as fragile X syndrome and FRAXE mental impairment.
In a study to be published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, Sergei Mirkin, White Family Professor of Biology at Tufts' School of Arts and Sciences, along with graduate students Irina Voineagu and Christine F. Surka and postdoctoral fellows Alexander A. Shishkin and Maria M. Krasilnikova, explored the link between CGG repeats and replication delays. Mirkin's research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Effect of palindromes
Past research from Mirkin’s lab had shown that peculiar long DNA sequences named palindromes change the shape of the molecule from a double helix into a hairpin-like structure and, as a result, stall replication. When this happens chromosomes can break during cell division.
For the new research, Mirkin and his team analyzed different cloned CGG repeats in a mammalian cell culture line called COS-1 and in budding yeast cells. The researchers found that short triplets do not cause any problems. When the repeats got longer, however, the replication machinery got jammed and stalled in both systems. Thus, replication stalling likely accounts for the chromosomal fragility. They believe that this stalling is due to the formation of a stable, hairpin-like DNA structure formed by long CGG repeats.
Abnormal structures disable cellular checkpoints
"Our cells have evolved elaborate 'checkpoint' mechanisms to detect replication blocks and trigger the instant 'restart' of DNA replication there," said Mirkin. "Are the CGG repeats causing the checkpoints to fail?"
With replication stalled, Mirkin and his research team found that the CGG repeats did not respond to the key checkpoint protein called Mrc1 in yeast or claspin in humans. Both proteins work to repair replication malfunctions during the S phase of the cell cycle. Apparently, the unusual structure of CGG repeats acts to escape the cellular checkpoints. As a consequence, chromosomes under-replicate, become fragile and break.
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the Premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.
Alex Reid | Newswise Science News
Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine