In a world first, Leeds researchers Professor Simon Phillips, Dr Stephen Carr and Dr Jonathan Hadden, together with Professor David Lilley at Dundee, have mapped the 3 dimensional structure of an enzyme responsible for splitting DNA strands – a process at the heart of human individuality.
The discovery of the T7 endonuclease 1 enzyme’s structure was made by using x-ray crystallography techniques. The enzyme is derived from a bacteriophage – a naturally occurring virus-like agent that attacks bacteria – but the molecular processes are expected to be similar in other organisms, including humans.
“Whilst the enzyme was known to play a central role, its physical structure, which is crucial to understanding the splitting process, has never been seen before. We’ve now got a 3D picture of it at work, and seen it at the point at which it is about to cut through the DNA strands. This is a major breakthrough in investigating the fundamental mechanisms at work behind the formation of a person’s DNA and how viruses replicate their DNA in the body,” says Professor Phillips.
In humans, this process starts at conception when maternal and paternal DNA strands join together at random points in their sequence(1). Enzymes such as T7 endonuclease 1 are then responsible for severing the strands at this junction, thus creating a third, unique DNA sequence for the offspring.
However, Professor Phillips says it will be some time before this process can be observed in humans. “It’s too important a discovery to rush. Our next step is to examine the process in a more complex system than bacteriophage, such as yeast,” he says.
The work is the result of a long collaboration between the research groups at Leeds and Dundee and has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Cancer Research UK.
Clare Elsley | alfa
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering