Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers measure the ’heat of life,’ offering clues to DNA damage

18.11.2003


A Rutgers-led team has produced the first ever measurement of the "heat of life" – the energies involved in DNA replication and synthesis. The researchers’ findings have opened the door to a better understanding of the origins of replication errors that can result in genetic mutations and serious illness. This is crucial knowledge for the development of medical diagnostics and treatments of genetic disorders.



"Our measurements represent the first direct determination of the energies and their transformations in this most fundamental process in biological chemistry," said principal investigator Kenneth J. Breslauer, Linus C. Pauling Professor, and dean and director of the Division of Life Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Breslauer explained that the measurements can be used to construct a virtual landscape that traces the precise energy differences between correct and incorrect DNA synthesis. The differential energy signatures signal the presence of DNA damage, potentially repairable by protein systems inside the cell or specifically designed drugs administered from the outside, or both.


"Knowing the nature and magnitude of the forces involved in correct and incorrect DNA synthesis is essential for rationally designing strategies for intervention, including new drug therapies," said Breslauer. "This knowledge can position us to begin to intervene, enabling us to halt incorrect synthesis through the introduction of highly targeted external agents.

"The only reason we are not a bunch of mutants walking around is that we have exquisite repair systems that can recognize these damaged sites and repair them before they replicate. And, if they do escape initial repair and replicate, we have additional repair systems that find the damage that was replicated and delete it," said Breslauer, noting the contributions of Rutgers’ recent National Medal of Science winner Evelyn Witkin to an understanding of these repair systems.

On rare occasions, both systems fail and when they do, a damaged piece of DNA can be carried on to the next generation. This might result in a particular protein not being able to be made in the offspring or even in the parent. Or, it might result in the improper regulation of a gene that controls cell growth, thereby precipitating uncontrolled growth and the formation of tumors.

DNA reproduces by acting as a template for copying itself, using ingredients available within the cell. Replication, the same as synthesis in this case, is required for any organism to develop, grow and pass on its genetic information. DNA damage is fairly common, a byproduct of our environment and normal metabolism.

In a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Breslauer and his colleagues describe their use of a novel combination of technology and chemical biology. They employed the world’s most sensitive thermal detection system, accurate to a millionth of a calorie, to measure reaction heats in a uniquely formulated "DNA soup."

"The degree to which this constitutes a breakthrough will be determined by how researchers here and elsewhere build upon it," Breslauer continued. "It is a foundation that is a necessary, but not sufficient, step in the direction of being able to understand and to regulate DNA synthesis, not only in the lab, but in living organisms."

The Human Genome Project and subsequent revelations provided by X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) have taught us a great deal about structure in biological systems. Breslauer points out, however, that there is still much to be learned about function and overall driving forces.

He makes the analogy of an automobile, in which knowing what all its component parts look like – the engine, the transmission, the brakes, etc. – still won’t allow you to fix the car if it is not running properly, unless you know the function of each part and the energy transfer between parts.

"These energy studies are essential to bridge the gap between structure and function, a bridge that is needed for our understanding of how biological processes operate and are controlled," Breslauer said.

Joseph Blumberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rutgers.edu/
http://www.pnas.org/misc/journalist.shtml

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision
23.09.2016 | Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)

nachricht Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target
23.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

New leukemia treatment offers hope

23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine

Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>