Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Molecular security system that protects cells from potentially harmful DNA discovered

Date:
January 14, 2010
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a molecular security system in human cells that deactivates and degrades foreign DNA. This discovery could open the door to major improvements in genetic engineering and gene therapy technologies.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered a molecular security system in human cells that deactivates and degrades foreign DNA. This discovery could open the door to major improvements in genetic engineering and gene therapy technologies.

Related Articles


Led by Reuben Harris, associate professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics in the College of Biological Sciences, the report's findings will be published online by Nature Structural and Molecular Biology on Jan. 10.

In the study, Harris and colleagues show how APOBEC3A, an enzyme found in human immune cells, disables double-stranded foreign DNA by changing cytosines (one of the four main bases in DNA) to uracils (an atypical DNA base). Persisting DNA uracils result in mutations that disable the DNA. In addition, the authors show that other enzymes step in to degrade the uracil-containing foreign DNA and sweep its remains out of the cell.

"Scientists have known for a long time that some human cells take up DNA better than others, but we haven't had good molecular explanations," Harris says. "This is definitely one of the reasons. Foreign DNA restriction is a fundamental process that could have broad implications for a variety of genetic diseases."

By understanding how the mechanism works, scientists can develop ways to manipulate it to enable more effective methods to swap bad genes for good ones. Harris is also intrigued to learn why the mechanism doesn't affect a cell's own DNA.

The discovery of an analogous foreign DNA restriction mechanism in bacteria launched the field of genetic engineering during the 1970s. Once bacterial DNA restriction enzymes were understood, their power was harnessed to cut and paste segments of DNA for a wide variety of therapeutic and industrial purposes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Molecular security system that protects cells from potentially harmful DNA discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100110151321.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2010, January 14). Molecular security system that protects cells from potentially harmful DNA discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100110151321.htm
University of Minnesota. "Molecular security system that protects cells from potentially harmful DNA discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100110151321.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

Rare Goblin Shark Found in Australia

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) A goblin shark, a rare sea creature described as an &apos;alien of the deep&apos; is found off Australia and delivered to the Australian Museum in Sydney. Duration: 01:25 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kenya President Sets Fire to 15 Tonnes of Elephant Ivory

Kenya President Sets Fire to 15 Tonnes of Elephant Ivory

AFP (Mar. 3, 2015) Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to a giant pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory Tuesday, vowing to destroy the country&apos;s entire stockpile of illegal tusks by the year&apos;s end. Duration: 01:06 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins