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Collisions of protein machines cause DNA replication derailment
Date:2/24/2011

Scientists have published results that will forever change the way researchers view the interplay between gene expression, DNA replication and the prevention of DNA damage.

DNA damage, if not kept in check, can lead to many problems including cancers. Researchers, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Wellcome Trust and working at The University of Nottingham, have shown that the process of replication is even riskier than originally thought. This new information is published today (24 February) in the journal Nature.

Lead researcher Panos Soultanas, a Professor of Biological Chemistry from The University of Nottingham School of Chemistry said "Consider DNA as a bi-directional rail track with two types of train: a big fast one like an eight-carriage cross country train and a small slow one like a two-carriage regional train. As it travels, the big train the DNA replisome is responsible for copying the DNA e.g. when a cell is preparing to divide. And the small train the RNA polymerase makes its journey to deal with the expression of genes contained within the DNA sequence."

Just like trains, collisions between proteins moving along a strand of DNA can be catastrophic and this is one reason why areas of DNA that are being used a lot are particularly prone to damage. Until now it was thought that only head-on collisions between the DNA replisome (the big, fast, cross country train) and the RNA polymerase (the small, slow, regional train) could lead to serious DNA damage. This research shows that collisions between big and small trains running in the same direction can be just as dangerous and hence the problem in areas of high use is exacerbated.

Professor Soultanas said "Until now we thought that if the fast and slow protein-trains meet going in the same direction along the track then the faster DNA replication train just slows down and follows along behind the slower g
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Contact: Mike Davies
mike.davies@bbsrc.ac.uk
01-793-414-694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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