Scientists Uncover DNA Repair Mechanism In Living Beings

Posted: Jun 25 2018, 2:05am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Uncover DNA Repair Mechanism In Living Beings
Image Credit: Yekaterina Kadyshevskaya

Walking Molecules Repair Damaged Strands of DNA.

A new study published by a team of researchers at the University of South California reveals how DNA repair took place in plants and animals. According to their findings, the cells have their own emergency room and paramedic staff for repairing the damaged strands of DNA.

This new finding is also very crucial for gene editing, repairing and editing DNA can help in curing different diseases and also offer new knowledge about living things. A lot of research has already been started to use genome editing to fight against life-threatening diseases like cancer.

“The findings are timely, as scientists are delving into the potential of genome editing with the DNA-cutting enzyme CRISPR-Cas9 to treat diseases or to advance scientific knowledge about humans, plants, animals and other organisms,” said Irene Chiolo, Gabilan Assistant Professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The scientists observed the cells of a mouse and fruit fly for this experiment, they used fluorescent markers to track the DNA repair activities. They found that the cell immediately initiated an emergency repair response for the broken strands of Heterochromatin DNA.

“Heterochromatin is also referred to as the ‘dark matter of the genome’ because so little is known about it,” Chiolo said. “But DNA damage in heterochromatin is likely a major driving force for cancer formation.”

For last two decades, repeated DNA sequences have been referred to as junk DNA, but this new information proves that these repeated DNA sequences are not just junk and are very necessary for different nuclear activities in the cells. The defect in the repair process of this DNA is directly linked to diseases and the process of aging.

Instead of understanding DNA repair process, earlier, the scientists were more focused on studying different genes and their impact on living organisms.

Mutations that lead to defect repair of heterochromatin effect the entire genome due to a large number of chromosomal rearrangements.

“I’m excited to see how the molecular mechanisms, we uncovered work in humans, as well as in plants that have much larger heterochromatin,” said Christopher Caridi, a co-lead author for the study and a postdoctoral researcher in Chiolo’s lab at USC Dornsife. It will be fascinating, he said, to see how such a complex repair mechanism functions and evolves over time and what aspects of the mechanisms may be adapted for other functions.

From earlier research works the scientists were already aware that cells have their own emergency room. It was during this research when they uncovered how myosin proteins act as paramedics and take the injured DNA to the emergency room that is situated on the outer side of the nucleus.

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