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Wayne State Researchers Report a Possible 'Proofreading' Step in DNA Synthesis by Observing Single Molecules of DNA Polymerase
Date:12/3/2009

ally important to understand how polymerase incorporates nucleotides, so that we may also understand why they sometimes make mistakes that cause genetic mutations and oftentimes disease."

As part of the movement of the DNA polymerase as it traveled across a DNA template, Romano and Rueda observed the polymerase oscillating between the position where nucleotides are attached, and a position where it possibly "checks" that the correct nucleotide was incorporated.

The discovery was achieved using single-molecule microscopy, a method that Rueda brought to Wayne State that allows researchers to observe the movement of single molecules in real time.

"Scientists have been trying to understand the mechanism by which DNA polymerase acts for more than 60 years," Rueda said. "It is well established that proofreading is a part of this process, but the step we see in our experiments has never before been observed," Rueda said.

The next challenge for Rueda and Romano is to further define this new step in DNA replication and acquire more evidence for its proofreading function. They also hope to observe a polymerase making a mistake during replication - something they have not yet observed because it happens so rarely.

"These studies represent the first step in a long-range program that we hope will greatly improve our understanding of an enzyme vital to maintaining our genetic information and preventing diseases such as cancer," Rueda said.

The full paper can be viewed at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/01/0908640106.full.pdf.

Wayne State University is one of the nation's pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university see
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SOURCE Wayne State University
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