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Mount Sinai researchers find structural basis for incidence of skin cancers in a genetic disorder
Date:6/23/2010

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found why patients with a variant form of xeroderma pigmentosum (XPV), an inherited genetic disorder characterized by extreme sensitivity to the sun, are more susceptible to skin cancers than the general population. The data are published in the current issue of the journal Nature. Their finding sets the stage for research into therapies that would help protect people with XPV from developing skin cancers.

The research team determined that, in the general population, DNA polymerase eta, an enzyme able to overcome the barriers created by sun damage and ultraviolet rays and continue replicating DNA strands, is structured differently from any other polymerase. However, in people with XPV, since this enzyme is missing, they are unable to bypass this damage, causing the replication process to stall, resulting in mutations and extremely high susceptibility to skin cancer.

Researchers have never been able to fully determine a structural basis for why the enzyme can get around UV damage. After nearly a decade of research, the Mount Sinai team successfully developed a crystal model, or a three dimensional chemical derivation, of the enzyme. They determined that in the general population, DNA polymerase eta suppresses skin cancer because the active site, where chemical reactions required to replicate DNA take place, can adjust much better to UV damage than any other DNA polymerase.

"We have been unable to study how DNA polymerase eta can replicate through UV damage because we did not have a crystal structure of the enzyme to study," said Aneel K. Aggarwal, Ph.D, Professor, Structural and Chemical Biology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Our team succeeded in developing this structure and determining what makes this enzyme unique."

In conjunction with Drs. Louise and Satya Prakash's group at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, Dr. Aggarwal's team g
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Contact: Mount Sinai Press Office
newsnow@mountsinai.org
212-241-9200
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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