Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CSHL scientists uncover role of protein critical for activating DNA replication

07.01.2010
Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have discovered how a protein long known to be an essential activator of DNA replication actually triggers this process in cells.

The protein, called DDK (for Ddf4-dependent protein kinase), is an enzyme that attaches phosphate molecules to other proteins to modify their activity. The CSHL team has found that DDK performs this operation, called phosphorylation, on a protein called Mcm4, specifically within a domain that acts as a built-in brake to prevent the DNA double helix from being unwound. The phosphorylation by DDK releases this brake, thus initiating the replication of unwound DNA strands.

"As DDK is often deregulated in human cancers, this new understanding of its role in DNA replication may help shape the development of new cancer therapies," explains CSHL President Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., who co-authored the study with colleague Yi-Jun Sheu, Ph.D. "Indeed recent studies have identified DDK inhibitors and they are now in clinical trials." The report was published in Nature on 7th January.

In multicellular organisms, the duplication of the DNA in chromosomes starts at multiple sites, called origins, within the genome. For the genome to retain its integrity each time a cell divides, it's crucial that each origin "fires," or becomes active, just once and only during a timeframe in the cell cycle known as the S-phase.

A large number of proteins cooperate and interact with military precision to ensure this "once-only" condition. First, a group of proteins cluster at each origin site to form a pre-replication complex or pre-RC. The phosphorylation of some pre-RC components by DDK in turn recruits other proteins to these pre-RCs, converting them into pre-initiation complexes, or pre-ICs.

Over the last 15 years, Dr. Stillman's group has systematically uncovered many of the pre-RC and pre-IC proteins, and meticulously catalogued when and where each protein interacts with its collaborators. Having found out previously that DDK targets a multi-subunit protein complex called MCM, they've now narrowed down DDK's binding site to a domain within one of the subunits, Mcm4, where it phosphorylates a series of amino acids—protein building blocks—that otherwise inhibit Mcm4 from functioning.

The discovery of this self-inhibitory activity within Mcm4 and the finding that DDK is required to overcome it was a surprise, according to the authors. They propose that such complexity might have evolved in response to the importance of precision and accuracy of DNA replication.

"Although this is the only essential role for DDK under normal conditions, we have found that DDK takes on another task when the cell suffers DNA damage," says Dr. Stillman. In this hazardous situation, he and his colleague found, DDK activates an S-phase checkpoint mechanism that halts the DNA copying process and initiates DNA repair.

"This discovery of these distinct functions of DDK represents a key piece of the puzzle of how the initiation of DNA replication is coordinated and controlled by kinase proteins," says Dr. Stillman.

This research was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

"The Cdc7-Dbf4 kinase promotes S phase progression by alleviating an inhibitory activity in Mcm4," appears in the 7th January issue of Nature. The full citation is Yi-Jun Sheu and Bruce Stillman. The full paper can be found at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7277/full/nature08647.html (doi:10.1038/nature08647).

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering.

Hema Bashyam | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cshl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins
12.11.2018 | Technische Universität Berlin

nachricht How to produce fluorescent nanoparticles for medical applications in a nuclear reactor
09.11.2018 | Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IOCB Prague)

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 Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>