But, scientists have never understood what controls which pathway a given piece of DNA would go down. Study authors found, that like a policeman directing traffic at a busy intersection, acetylation directs which proteins take which route, favoring the protection of DNA that creates proteins by shuttling them down the elite, more accurate course.
"If we found a way to improve the protection of DNA that guides protein production, basically boosting what our body already does to eliminate errors, it could help us live longer," said Lata Balakrishnan, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate at the Medical Center, who helped lead the work. "A medication that would cause a small alteration in this acetylation-based regulatory mechanism might change the average onset of cancers or neurological diseases to well beyond the current human lifespan."
"Clearly, a simple preventative approach would be a key, not to immortality, but to longer, disease-free lives," added Bambara.
DNA replication is an intricate, error-prone process, which takes place when our cells divide and our DNA is duplicated. Duplicate copies of DNA are first made in separate pieces, that later must be joined to create a new, full strand of DNA. The first half of each separate DNA segment usually contains the most errors, while mistakes are less likely to appear in the latter half.
For DNA that travels down the standard route, the first 20 percent of each separate DNA segment is tagged, cut off and removed. This empty space is then backfilled with the latter part which is the more accurate section of the adjoining piece of DNA as the two segments come together to form a full strand.
In contrast, DNA that travels down the elite route gets special treatment: the first 30 to 40 percent of each separate DNA segment is tagged,
|Contact: Emily Boynton|
University of Rochester Medical Center