Scientists Unlock Secret Of How DNA Replicates

Posted: Dec 30 2018, 1:38pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 30 2018, 1:41pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Unlock Secret of How DNA Replicates
Credit: NIH

New information on DNA replication could help in fight against diseases.

DNA, which carries the genetic code of an organism, is stored inside every cell in a body. Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA is essential to all living organisms. In order for organisms to function properly, it is necessary that all cells share the same DNA blueprint. This is made possible by replication of DNA, a process where DNA is accurately copied before a cell divides. If errors occur in DNA replication, the cell division becomes uncontrollable and can lead to diseases.

DNA replication was first identified in the late 1950s, but exactly how the process is regulated has been something of a mystery. DNA replication is a complex process. Understanding how and when DNA replicates is of the utmost importance. It could have implications for treating diseases such as cancer because replication process is mostly disrupted in cancer patients.

"It's been quite a mystery. Replication seemed resilient to everything we tried to do to perturb it. We've described it in detail, shown it changes in different cell types and that it is disrupted in disease. But until now, we couldn't find that final piece, the control elements or the DNA sequences that control it." David Gilbert, a molecular biologist from Florida State University said.

Gilbert and his colleagues have been examining the replication process for some time. But it is only recently that they have gained unprecedented access to the underlying mechanism and determined how replication was regulated.

To understand the process, researchers examined a single segment of the DNA in the highest possible 3-D resolution and saw three elements touching each other frequently. Then, they used CRISPR, a sophisticated gene editing technology, to remove these elements. Researchers were surprised to discover that these three elements together were the key to DNA replication.

"Removing these elements shifted the segment's replication time from the very beginning to the very end of the process," said Gilbert. "This was one of those moments where just one result knocks your socks off."

The removal of the three elements not only affected replication timing but also caused dramatic changes to the structure of the DNA molecule.

"We have for the first time pinpointed specific DNA sequences in the genome that regulate chromatin structure and replication timing,” said researcher Jiao Sima. "These results reflect one possible model of how DNA folds inside cells and how these folding patterns could impact the hereditary materials' function."

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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