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Study suggests enzyme crucial to DNA replication may provide potent anti-cancer drug target
Date:4/14/2011

LA JOLLA, CA April 14, 2011 An enzyme essential for DNA replication and repair in humans works in a way that might be exploited as anti-cancer therapy, say researchers at The Scripps Research Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The research, published in the April 15, 2011 issue of the journal Cell, focused on a member of a group of enzymes called flap endonucleases, which are essential to the life of a cell. The findings show new, clearly defined crystal structures of the enzyme FEN1 in actiondemonstrating it functions in a way opposite to accepted dogma.

"This work represents a seminal advance in the understanding of FEN1," said team leader John Tainer, professor and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research and senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. "The research produced very accurate structures showing DNA before and after being cut by FEN1 activity, providing a basis for understanding a whole superfamily of enzymes that must cut specific DNA structures in order for DNA to be replicated and repaired."

This superfamily includes important targets for the development of new cancer interventions, Tainer added. Many cancers show high levels of FEN1 expression, which in some cases is correlated to tumor aggression. For these cases, FEN1-specific inhibitors may have chemotherapeutic potential.

"A better understanding of FEN1 structure and function may have long-term positive benefits to human health," noted co-author Andy Arvai, a scientific associate at Scripps Research.

Working rapidly with exquisite precision

In order for DNA to replicate, it has to unwind its double helix, which is formed out of two strands of amino acids coiled together. This unwinding is done by a replication fork whereby the two strands are separated. These strands, which form two branching prongs of the replication fork, serves as a template for production of a ne
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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