Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Maintaining Genetic Stability

'A protein complex that untangles DNA' is a brief article providing a good glimpse into the multiple mechanisms involved in maintaining genetic stability. The article notes a paper, which appeared in Molecular Cell, authored by researchers wanting to get a better understanding of what goes wrong when cancer occurs. Their approach was to investigate chromosomal aberations and DNA repair.

There are three protein complexes essential to chromosome repair and distribution during the cell division process. Quoting from the article researcher Camilla Sjogren stated, when referring to these protein complexes, "One of them, cohesin, keeps the DNA copies together such that they do not separate too early; while the other, condensin, makes the chromosomes more compact, making the separation easier."

The third protein complex was the object of the research group's study. It is known as the Smc5/6 complex. Researchers found that this complex is involved in two different functions. One is the repair of DNA and the other is disentangling of chromosomes prior to cell division. The tangling is a consequence of copying DNA and the untangling essential to ensure that each daughter cell gets its needed chromosomes.

There is an intent to further study the molecular details and as Camilla Sjogren stated: "This will bring us one step closer to the general goal – a summary of the many mechanisms that collaborate to maintain our genetic stability."

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