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

w complementary strand.

That task is fairly straightforward on what is known as the "leading" of the two strands. The replication fork moves along from the so-called 3' (three prime) end to the 5' (five prime) end, and DNA polymerase synthesizes a 5' to 3' complementary strand.

But because the two strands are anti-parallel, meaning they are oriented in opposite directions, the work of DNA polymerase, which can only work in the 5' to 3' direction, is more difficult on the so-called lagging strand. This strand needs to be replicated in pieces, which are known as Okazaki fragments, located near the replication fork. These fragments include a "primer," a strand of RNA that serves as a starting point for DNA synthesis.

This is where FEN1 comes init removes that RNA primer on the 5' flap, which occurs every 100 base pairs or so on the lagging strand, said Tainer. It's an enormous job that has to be done rapidly and accurately in order to glue the ends of replicated DNA on the lagging strand together to eventually provide an intact chromosome. "To replicate one DNA double helix in one cell you have to cut off a 5' flap so that you don't have one base pair too many or one base pair too few, and you have to do this accurately with 50 million Okazaki primers in each cell cycle," Tainer said. "It has always been a mystery as to how FEN1 can precisely cut this flap so efficiently and so rapidly. It's an amazing, efficient molecular machine for precisely cutting DNA."

To determine what FEN1 looked like in action, Arvai led the difficult but ultimately successful effort to grow crystals of the human FEN1 protein bound to DNA. The team then used X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic structure of the complex. Using Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light Source beamline, called SIBYLS, the scientists solved three different crystal structures.

The end result was a highly detailed and accurate model showing the stru
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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