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Researchers reveal structure of protein that repairs damage to cancer cells
Date:4/23/2008

A team of University of Chicago scientists has shown how two proteins locate and repair damaged genetic material inside cells.

One protein detects and repairs damage in malignant cells that may result from a certain type of cancer therapy. In a paper published in the April 24 issue of the journal Nature, the team raised the possibility of designing a molecule that could interfere with the repair process, making cancer treatment more effective.

Chuan He, Assistant Professor in Chemistry, led the team. His co-authors included Phoebe Rice, Associate Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago, and five researchers from his laboratory: Cai-Guang Yang, Chengqi Yi, Erica Duguid, Christopher Sullivan, and Xing Jian. Their work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the W.M. Keck Foundation and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

In their Nature paper, the scientists determined, for the first time, the crystal structures (showing the three-dimensional framework of atoms) of two related DNA-repair proteins bound to double-stranded DNA: a bacterial protein called AlkB, and a corresponding human protein, ABH2. Scientists had been seeking the structures of these proteins to better understand how they perform their key roles in repairing DNA.

The bacterial protein can bind to either single- or double-stranded DNA. The strands separate during the replication process, but the bacterial protein avoids the latter. This is very bizarre, because most other DNA repair proteins prefer double-stranded, He said. The AlkB protein avoids double-stranded DNA because binding it takes more energy.

Double-stranded DNA is rigid. Single-stranded is very flexible, He explained. You can cause all kinds of distortion in single-stranded without paying much energetic penalty.

Many labs have unsuccessfully attempted to solve the structure of the bacterial protein with double-strande
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Contact: Steve Koppes
s-koppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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