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 Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
28.03.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>