Researchers hope to someday develop an enzyme to repair UV-damaged DNA in humans
Plants, pond scum, and even organisms that live where the sun doesnt shine have something that humans do not -- an enzyme that repairs DNA damaged by ultraviolet (UV) light.
Cabell Jonas of Richmond, Va., an undergraduate honors student in biology at Virginia Tech, will report on the molecular details of the DNA-repair enzyme at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society March 23-27 in New Orleans. Her poster includes the novel discovery that the enzyme does not operate the same way in different organisms.
UV light is one of the most prevalent causes of DNA damage. In humans, incidents of resulting disease -- in particular, skin cancer, are increasing as exposure to UV increases, says Sunyoung Kim, assistant professor of biochemistry at Virginia Tech. Since the human body does not have DNA photolyase, Kim and her students are studying the DNA-repair enzyme in other systems. "Our aim is to map the molecular interactions and understand the structural changes, with the eventual goal of being able to create or adapt this flavoenzyme from another organism for treatment of skin cancer in humans," says Kim.
Sunyoung Kim | EurekAlert!
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