Our cells are resourceful when it comes to copying DNA, even when the DNA is damaged
Billions of cells divide every day in our bodies to replace those that wear out. To be able to do so, their DNA must be copied. A new Weizmann Institute study shows that the molecules in charge of the task of copying DNA -- called DNA polymerases -- are able to improvise in order to achieve this crucially important goal. This new insight into DNA replication and repair could assist in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in which DNA damage is involved, such as cancer. The surprising findings appear in the December 9 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), USA.
DNA polymerases travel along the DNA, producing new "printouts" of it each time the cell divides. In this way, genetic information is passed on in our bodies and from generation to generation. However, problems begin when the DNA is damaged due to factors such as cigarette smoke, radiation and certain reactions in the body. Though our body possesses special enzymes that fix DNA, some damage escapes their notice -- and DNA polymerases must deal with it.
Alex Smith | EurekAlert!
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