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'Telepathic' genes recognize similarities in each other
Date:1/24/2008

able to recognise each other as a whole without protein involvement. According to the theory, this recognition mechanism is stronger the longer the genes are.

The researchers observed the behaviour of fluorescently tagged DNA molecules in a pure solution. They found that DNA molecules with identical patterns of chemical bases were approximately twice as likely to gather together than DNA molecules with different sequences.

Professor Alexei Kornyshev from Imperial College London, one of the studys authors, explains the significance of the teams results: Seeing these identical DNA molecules seeking each other out in a crowd, without any external help, is very exciting indeed. This could provide a driving force for similar genes to begin the complex process of recombination without the help of proteins or other biological factors. Our teams experimental results seem to support these expectations.

Understanding the precise mechanism of the primary recognition stage of genetic recombination may shed light on how to avoid or minimise recombination errors in evolution, natural selection and DNA repair. This is important because such errors are believed to cause a number of genetically determined diseases including cancers and some forms of Alzheimers, as well as contributing to ageing. Understanding this mechanism is also essential for refining precise artificial recombination techniques for biotechnologies and gene therapies of the future.

The team is now working on a set of further experiments to determine exactly how these interactions work, including the predicted length dependence. In addition, further studies are needed to ascertain whether this interaction, discovered in a test tube, occurs in the highly complex environment of a living cell.


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Contact: Danielle Reeves
danielle.reeves@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-42198
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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