DNA repair enzymes do a much better job of repairing damaged genes if they are facing in one direction instead of the other. This and other details of how DNA repair is performed are reported in the online version of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at Washington State University and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
According to the new study, the repair enzymes "distinguish" between various positions and may be two to three times as effective, depending on whether the damage to be repaired is facing "toward" or "away from" the nucleosome, the protein-DNA complex that folds the very long DNA strands into the tiny nucleus of a cell and gives enzymes access to the DNA for repair and for replication when the cell divides.
Washington State’s senior author, Michael J. Smerdon, explained, "Like a child’s face, our DNA gets smudged up all the time by environmental and bodily chemicals. Our work provides additional details about how our cells work to clean the DNA up - to correct our heredity molecule, the DNA helix that is within each living cell." The explosion of research on DNA repair dates back less than a decade, to the demonstration that some colon cancer and xeroderma pigmentosum are linked to faulty DNA repair. Xeroderma pigmentosum is a rare condition in which the skin is extremely sensitive to the sun and other ultraviolet light, resulting in extreme freckling and aging.
Bill Grigg | EurekAlert!
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