The research carried out by CNIO and CSIC demonstrates that the PrimPol enzyme prevents the copying process from being interrupted when there is damage: it recognises lesions and skips over them, and they are repaired when the copy is finished.
In evolutionary terms, PrimPol is a very old enzyme, and similar proteins have been found in archaebacteria, one of the first life forms that inhabited the Earth. "Millions of years ago, life conditions were more difficult [high salinity, extreme temperatures, etc.], so PrimPol has probably adapted to synthesising DNA in these conditions that encourage damage", says Mndez, adding that: "in exchange, these primitive DNA polymerases are less exact than the more evolved copying systems and can introduce mutations".
The scientists anticipate that this increase in mutations could have played a key role in the evolution of genomes, as well as having an impact on the ageing of cells and the development of cancer. Having identified and characterised this new protein in human beings, the researchers tell us that they are already studying its role in disease development.
|Contact: Nuria Noriega|
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)