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Clemson University biochemists identify new genetic code repair tool
Date:9/27/2011

CLEMSON, S.C. Clemson University researchers recently reported finding a new class of DNA repair-makers.

Clemson biochemist Weiguo Cao studies how cells repair damaged DNA. The finding from Cao's lab in the Clemson Biosystems Research Complex in collaboration with computational chemist Brian Dominy appeared in the Sept. 9 issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry: "A new family of deamination repair enzymes in the uracil DNA glycosylase superfamily by Hyun-Wook Lee, Brian N. Dominy and Weiguo Cao."

"DNA is a string of a long molecule composed of four building blocks: A for adenine, T for thymine, G for guanine and C for cytosine. The heredity of all organisms is determined by the pairing of A with T and G with C," said Cao, a professor in the genetics and biochemistry department.

DNA is constantly assaulted by various stresses. A common type of damage is modification of three out of the four building blocks for genetic code, A, G, C by a chemical process called deamination. The genetic consequence of deamination is that it will change the pairing of the genetic code. For example, the deamination of C (cytosine) will generate U (uracil). Instead of pairing with G as C will do, U pairs with A. In so doing, it changes the genetic program inside the cell and may cause dangerous mutations resulting in disease.

To ensure the integrity of the genetic material, cells are equipped with a "molecular toolkit" for repairing DNA damage. The toolkit is comprised of a variety of different molecules called enzymes that have evolved to repair different types of DNA damage. One of the DNA repair enzymes the Cao lab studies is called uracil DNA glycosylase (UDG). As it's name indicates, it is traditionally known as an enzyme that removes uracil from DNA. Because deamination of C (cytosine) is a very common type of damage found in DNA, UDG has been found in many organisms and researchers have grouped them into five families in the s
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Contact: Weiguo Cao
wgc@clemson.edu
864-656-4176
Clemson University
Source:Eurekalert

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