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A scanner for hereditary defects: New possibilities in genetic damage recognition for improving cancer treatment

Date:
January 24, 2013
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
Our DNA is constantly under attack from UV light, toxins and metabolic processes. Proteins and enzymes continually repair the damaged DNA. Unrecognized and therefore unrepaired damage to the genetic material, however, accelerates aging and causes cancer and genetic disorders. Researchers have now discovered that the protein XPD plays a key role in locating damaged DNA.

The XPD scanner (green)is in close contact with a damaged point (red) on the DNA double helix. The damaged DNA strand lies in a deep pocket of the protein to enable a ferrous sensor (Fe) to come into contact with the damaged point, thereby halting the protein as it moves along the DNA.
Credit: Picture: UZH

Our DNA is constantly under attack from UV light, toxins and metabolic processes. Proteins and enzymes continually repair the damaged DNA. Unrecognized and therefore unrepaired damage to the genetic material, however, accelerates aging and causes cancer and genetic disorders. A team headed by veterinary pharmacologist and toxicologist Hanspeter Nägeli has now discovered that the protein XPD plays a key role in locating damaged DNA.

XPD protein as scanner

Genetic information is stored on approximately three billion base pairs of adenine/thymine or cytosine/guanine in the thread-like DNA double helix. The researchers reveal that the XPD protein works like a scanner that glides along the DNA double helix, scouring the bases for signs of damage. As soon as one of the protein's ferrous sensors encounters damage as it moves along, it is stopped, thereby marking damaged spots in need of repair. Besides patching up DNA, XPD is also involved in cell division and gene expression, thus making it one of the most versatile cell proteins.

Basis for possible courses of therapy

While repairing the DNA protects healthy body tissue from damage to the genetic material, however, it diminishes the impact of many chemotherapeutic substances against cancer. "Damage recognition using XPD opens up new possibilities to stimulate or suppress DNA repair according to the requirements and target tissue," explains Hanspeter Nägeli. The results could thus aid the development of new cancer treatments.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Nadine Mathieu, Nina Kaczmarek, Peter Rüthemann, Andreas Luch, Hanspeter Naegeli. DNA Quality Control by a Lesion Sensor Pocket of the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Group D Helicase Subunit of TFIIH. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.12.032

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "A scanner for hereditary defects: New possibilities in genetic damage recognition for improving cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130124133952.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2013, January 24). A scanner for hereditary defects: New possibilities in genetic damage recognition for improving cancer treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130124133952.htm
University of Zurich. "A scanner for hereditary defects: New possibilities in genetic damage recognition for improving cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130124133952.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

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