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
MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute
Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering