Chromosome glue repairs damaged DNA

July 13, 2007

When a strand of DNA breaks in the body's cells, it normally does not take long until it has been repaired. Now researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have discovered a new mechanism that helps to explain how the cell performs these repairs. The results are presented in Science.

The new results are concerned with a phenomenon called cohesion, whereby two copies of a chromosome in the cell nucleus are held tightly together by a protein complex called cohesin.

Cohesion fulfils an important function during cell division as the newly copied chromosomes, the sister chromatids, have to stay together until the right moment of separation. If the chromatids come apart too early, there is a risk of the daughter cells getting the wrong number of chromosomes, something that is often observed in tumour cells.

Dr Camilla Sjögren and her research team have now shown that the cell also employs cohesion to repair damaged sister chromatids. Their results show that DNA damage can reactivate cohesin, which runs counter to the commonly held view that cohesion only arises during the DNA copying that takes place before cell division.

Scientists have long been fascinated by the way in which the duplicated chromosomes are separated before cell division so that exactly half the copied genetic material ends up in each daughter cell. Another large research question is how cells repair damaged DNA and consequently prevent cancer, for example.

"We have shown that chromosome segregation and DNA repair are partly dealt with by the same machinery. These findings provide new understanding of two fundamental cellular mechanisms and may also be of value to cancer research," says Dr Sjögren.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Explore further: Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation

Related Stories

Plant light sensors came from ancient algae

July 28, 2015

The light-sensing molecules that tell plants whether to germinate, when to flower and which direction to grow were inherited millions of years ago from ancient algae, finds a new study from Duke University.

Understanding the molecular origin of epigenetic markers

July 28, 2015

Researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), Cambridge University and New York University, led by Modesto Orozco, Group Leader at IRB Barcelona, Director of Life Sciences at the Barcelona Supercomputing ...

Bleach a possible key to life on earth

July 23, 2015

Hydrogen peroxide - commonly used as hair bleach - may have provided the energy source for the development of life on Earth, two applied mathematicians have found.

Recommended for you

How bees naturally vaccinate their babies

July 31, 2015

When it comes to vaccinating their babies, bees don't have a choice—they naturally immunize their offspring against specific diseases found in their environments. And now for the first time, scientists have discovered how ...

Binary star system precisely timed with pulsar's gamma-rays

July 31, 2015

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Earth flyby of 'space peanut' captured in new video

July 31, 2015

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.