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DNA template could explain evolutionary shifts
Date:6/21/2009

yme called a helicase separates the two strands, breaking the hydrogen bonds between the A T and G C base pairs. The two separating strands become the replication fork. On one strand, an enzyme called DNA polymerase reads the genetic material in the strand as a template and makes a strand of complementary DNA to pair to it. Again, the code is A to T and C to G. This process is continuous. On the lagging strand, the complementary strand is made in short, separated segments by a process that involves RNA and a series of enzymes.

Until the 1990s, researchers studying reasons for genetic mutations or changes looked at molecular "typos" in this process, tiny changes in the As, Ts, Cs or Gs called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs). They changed the message of the gene. However, in the early 1990s, Lupski was one of the early champions of a newly discovered mechanism in which the structure of the DNA itself was grossly duplicated or deleted to change numbers of copies of a gene that occurred in the genetic material. This "copy number variation" wrote a new chapter in the understanding of human genetic variation.

In a previous report (http://www.bcm.edu/news/item.cfm?newsID=1038) , Lupski and colleagues described how the process that copies DNA during cell division stalls when there is a problem with the genetic material. In some cases, the process seeks a different template, often copying another similar but significantly different stretch of DNA before it switches back to the appropriate area.

In this newer report, Lupski and colleagues describe how this process called fork stalling and template switching (FoSTeS) in humans or microhomology-mediated break-induced replication (MMBIR) in simpler models generated genomic rearrangements ranging in size from several megabases to a few hundred base pair during normal cell division, resulting in the duplication or even triplications of individual genes or the rearrangements of single exons (t
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Contact: Glenna Picton
picton@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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