A companion-less protein stuck during DNA unzipping
Photo courtesy of Taekjip Ha
Using an optical fluorescence microscope to monitor enzyme activity, researchers at three universities have solved a long-running mystery. It takes at least two proteins, working in an unstable tandem, to unzip two strands of DNA.
Their newly designed approach, which focuses on the activity of single molecules, also showed -- for the first time -- that if one protein falls away, the process stops. Unless another climbs aboard, DNA reverts to its zipped state.
The technique, which offers a new way to study activities of many other proteins in general, and the new findings that clarify how DNA unwinds, will be published Thursday (Oct. 10) in the journal Nature. The principal investigator of the research is Taekjip Ha, professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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