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Scripps research team unravels new cellular repair mechanism
Date:8/6/2008

The research was published today in an advanced, online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The cell cycle, which allows cells to replicate their DNA and produce new cells, is controlled by a complex concert of enzymes and other components. In addition there are "checkpoint" mechanisms that can block continuation of the process if something goes amiss. Via mechanisms still poorly understood, a checkpoint in the reproduction process can detect problems that interfere with DNA copying. This detection can in turn trigger several potential responses.

"If the cycle is paused because the cell is having some problem," says study lead Professor Curt Wittenberg, of the Scripps Research Departments of Molecular Biology and Cell Biology, "it can't stop and go back, so it either kills the new cell or repairs the problem."

The checkpoint mechanisms that control the cell cycle are of great interest not only because they are such a fundamental aspect of biology, but also because problems in the cycle and its DNA repair mechanisms can lead to mutations that cause the unchecked proliferation of cells associated with various cancers.

The Wittenberg group recently identified a protein dubbed Nrm1 that appeared to play important roles in a yeast cell's successful transition from the G1 phase, in which cells prepare to replicate DNA, to actual replication during the S phase. Now, in the new paper, the Wittenberg group in collaboration with colleagues in the Scripps Research laboratories of Professors Paul Russell and John Yates show what some of those roles are.

At specific points in the cell cycle, groups of genes are turned on and off to produce the enzymes and other components needed for progression into the next cell cycle phase, and a healthy cell will only move forward into the next phase of the cycle if certain standards are met.

However, if a problem arises in the DNA replication proce
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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