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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 14:51 EDT

Study Discovers How Proteins Help Repair DNA

June 15, 2009

A person’s DNA is often damaged by a number of different chemical contaminants, and if not repaired properly, it can lead to the development of cancer and other diseases. Through an international collaboration, University of Alberta researchers Chris Le and Michael Weinfeld have discovered how damaged DNA is recognized and repaired. This could lead to improved treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The team, from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, used a new technology to monitor the early steps in the repair of the damage. They found that the proteins that initially recognize the damage amplify the distortion of the DNA around the damaged site by bending the DNA and separating the strands of the double helix. This makes it easier for the next protein to recognize and cut out the damaged portion of the DNA. The cells then patch up the empty space using the healthy half of the DNA as a model to repair the cell to its original state.

The study was conducted using a DNA repair system operated in E. Coli, but the findings are applicable to other cells because they adopt similar systems. To study the processes, the U of A team developed an advanced bio-analytical technique that enables dynamic monitoring of bio-molecular interactions. This could be highly useful in many other studies around the world.

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