At the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich scientists have now elucidated the structure of a ring-shaped protein complex (SMC-kleisin), which ensures order in this packaging process. Together with their cooperation partners at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, they studied these proteins in bacteria and found structural analogies to the human complex. The findings have now been published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
SMC protein complexes form ring-like structures that entrap DNA molecules to shape chromosomes into a series of loops or coils.
Copyright: MPI of Biochemistry
In each cell about two meters of DNA must fit into a cell nucleus that has a diameter of only a few thousandths of a millimeter. There the DNA is organized in individual chromosomes in the form of very long filaments. If they are not equally and accurately distributed to the daughter cells during cell division, this can result in cancer or genetic defects such as trisomy 21. Therefore, to ensure safe transport of DNA during cell division the long and coiled DNA fibers must be tightly packed.
Scientists have only a sketchy understanding of this step. The SMC-kleisin protein complexes play a key role in this process. They consist of two arms (SMC) and a bridge (kleisin). The arms wrap around the DNA like a ring and thus can connect duplicated chromosomes or two distant parts of the same chromosome with each other.
In humans the DNA packaging machinery is similarly organized. “We suspect that this asymmetric structure plays an important role in the opening and closing of the ring around the DNA,” explains Frank Bürmann, PhD student in the research group ‘Chromosome Organization and Dynamics’ of Stephan Gruber. In addition, the scientists discovered how the ends of the kleisin can distinguish between correct and wrong binding sites on one pair of arms.
The cohesion of chromosomes is of critical importance for reproduction as well. In human eggs this cohesion must be maintained for decades to ensure error-free meiosis of the egg cell. Failure of cohesion is a likely cause for decreased fertility due to age or the occurrence of genetic defects such as trisomy 21. “The elucidation of the structure of SMC-kleisin protein complexes is an important milestone in understanding the intricate organization of chromosomes,” says group leader Stephan Gruber. [VS]
Anja Konschak | Max-Planck-Institut
In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins
12.11.2018 | Technische Universität Berlin
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)
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...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
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...
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...
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...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy