Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Radioactivity muddles alphabet of DNA

Date:
December 17, 2013
Source:
Curtin University
Summary:
Researchers have shown natural radioactivity within DNA can alter chemical compounds, providing a new pathway for genetic mutation. The research for the first time looked at natural radioactivity within human DNA on the atomic-scale. While radioactivity occurs naturally in our bodies as well as in every living organism across the planet, it was never before thought to affect our DNA in such a direct way.

Curtin University researchers have shown natural radioactivity within DNA can alter chemical compounds, providing a new pathway for genetic mutation.

The research, recently published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-General Subjects, for the first time looked at natural radioactivity within human DNA on the atomic-scale.

While radioactivity occurs naturally in our bodies as well as in every living organism across the planet, it was never before thought to affect our DNA in such a direct way.

Using high-performance computers, the research team from Curtin and Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to show radioactivity could alter molecular structures which encode genetic information, creating new molecules that do not belong to the four-letter alphabet of DNA.

Professor Nigel Marks from Curtin's Discipline of Physics and Astronomy and Curtin's Nanochemistry Research Institute said the new molecules may well generate mutations by confusing the replication mechanisms in DNA.

"This work takes an entirely new direction on research into natural radioactivity in biology and raises important questions about genetic mutation," Professor Marks said.

"We have discovered a subtle process that could easily be overlooked by the standard cell repair mechanisms in the body, potentially creating a new pathway for mutations to occur."

Professor Marks said the work was both exciting and unexpected, emerging as a spin-off from an Australian Research Council funded project on nuclear waste.

"As part of the project between Curtin and Los Alamos we developed a suite of computational tools to examine deliberate radioactivity in crystalline solids, only to later realise that the same methods could be applied to natural radioactivity in molecules," he said.

"This direction was an unplanned outcome of our research program -- just the way blue skies research should be."

The natural radioactivity in focus involved the decay of carbon atoms, Carbon-14, turning into nitrogen atoms, Nitrogen-14.

Professor Marks said this was one of the most abundant forms of radioactive decay occurring in biological systems. Over a human lifetime, around 50 billion Carbon-14 decays occur within our DNA.

"While it is still not obvious how DNA replication is affected by the presence of chemical compounds that are different to the four-letter alphabet of DNA, it is quite remarkable to consider that Carbon-14 could be a source of genetic mutation that would be impossible to avoid due to the universal presence of radiocarbon in the environment," Professor Marks said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Michel Sassi, Damien J. Carter, Blas P. Uberuaga, Chris R. Stanek, Nigel A. Marks. Carbon-14 decay as a source of non-canonical bases in DNA. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects, 2014; 1840 (1): 526 DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2013.10.003

Cite This Page:

Curtin University. "Radioactivity muddles alphabet of DNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104231.htm>.
Curtin University. (2013, December 17). Radioactivity muddles alphabet of DNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104231.htm
Curtin University. "Radioactivity muddles alphabet of DNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104231.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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