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Scientists find a key to maintaining our DNA
Date:3/18/2011

DNA contains all of the genetic instructions that make us who we are, and maintaining the integrity of our DNA over the course of a lifetime is a critical, yet complex part of the aging process. In an important, albeit early step forward, scientists have discovered how DNA maintenance is regulated, opening the door to interventions that may enhance the body's natural preservation of genetic information.

The new findings may help researchers delay the onset of aging and aging-related diseases by curbing the loss or damage of our genetic makeup, which makes us more susceptible to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's. Keeping our DNA intact longer into our later years could help eliminate the sickness and suffering that often goes hand-in-hand with old age.

"Our research is in the very early stages, but there is great potential here, with the capacity to change the human experience," said Robert Bambara, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and leader of the research. "Just the very notion is inspiring."

In the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Bambara and colleagues report that a process called acetylation regulates the maintenance of our DNA. The team has discovered that acetylation determines the degree of fidelity of both DNA replication and repair.

The finding builds on past research, which established that as humans evolved, we created two routes for DNA replication and repair a standard route that eliminates some damage and a moderate amount of errors, and an elite route that eliminates the large majority of damage and errors from our DNA.

Only the small portion of our DNA that directs the creation of all the proteins we are made of proteins in blood cells, heart cells, liver cells and so on takes the elite route, which uses much more energy and so "costs" the body more. The remaining majority of our DNA, w
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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