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A civil war inside our cells: Scientists show how our bodies fight off 'jumping genes'
Date:4/25/2014

lecule can attach and change some of the "letters" or base-pairs (rungs on the DNA ladder) in the DNA sequence. Specifically, it changes the "C" bases to "U" bases. The presence of those U bases triggers the cell's cleanup mechanism to come in and dismantle the new copy of the rogue DNA.

In other words, APOBEC3A preempts a potential mutation by LINE-1 jumping, by itself causing a mutation in the new LINE-1 copy that the cell then destroys. But APOBEC3A can pose a mutation danger to the rest of our DNA which means our cells must strike a balance between a vigorous defense and the danger of friendly fire.

This kind of intracellular "immunity" may have been raging since the beginnings of life on earth, Moran speculates. LINE-1 contains the code for a molecule called reverse transcriptase the kind of molecule that would have been crucial when higher life forms started to evolve and use DNA instead of the less stable RNA to carry genetic information.

Moran and his colleagues will continue to study the importance of the APOBEC family of enzymes in fighting the effects of jumping genes.

They hope to study APOBEC's importance in fighting off mutations early in the development of embryonic life, and in the development of the eggs and sperm that carry our genes to the next generation. Now that they have shown how this defense mechanism works in cultured cells, they hope to study the importance of LINE-1 jumping and the defenses against it in specific diseases.


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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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