Researchers 'capture' the replication of the human genome for the first time

April 25, 2013

The Genomic Instability Group led by researcher Óscar Fernández-Capetillo at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), has for the first time obtained a panoramic photo of the proteins that take part in human DNA division, a process known as replication.

The research article, published today in the journal Cell Reports, is the result of a collaborative study in which other CNIO groups have also participated, including the Proteomics Unit led by Javier Muñoz and the Group led by Juan Méndez.

DNA replication is the chemical process that sustains cell division, and thus one of the targeted by most chemotherapeutic agents in order to destroy .

To date, multiple independent molecular studies carried out over the last decades have given a general idea of the proteins involved in the replication process. "We suspected that there might be several dozen proteins that control this process meticulously, thus ensuring the correct duplication of our genome as an indispensible step prior to cell division," explains Fernández-Capetillo.

Thanks to the development of a new technology that allows to isolate recently synthesised DNA, in addition to sophisticated proteomic detection tools (the iPOND-MS technique), CNIO researchers have for the first time been able to precisely draw out, in a single experiment, the replication machinery. These results represent the first proteomic characterisation of the replisome.

According to the authors, the proteins identified have very different activities: they open up the , copy it, repair any breaks if needs be, modify it in different ways, etc. "In short, they're all necessary in order to ensure the correct duplication of the DNA and avoid in the that form the basis of tumours", states Fernández-Capetillo.

New replication proteins

Andrés Joaquín López-Contreras, the first author of the study, adds: "Some of these proteins were already known but this study has also allowed us to identify new proteins needed for DNA replication, opening up new research paths in the field."

DNA replication in cancer cells occurs in an uncontrolled or aberrant manner, which makes it the Achilles' heel of oncology research. According to Fernández-Capetillo, the next step consists of applying these new technologies to finding differences in the replication machinery of normal and cancer cells, so that new therapeutic strategies can be found to treat cancer.

"If we manage to find fundamental differences between replication in normal cells and in cancer cells, we will surely be able to find new therapeutic targets on which to focus future treatments in the fight against cancer," says the CNIO researcher.

Explore further: Researchers illuminate mechanisms that regulate DNA damage control and replication

More information: A Proteomic characterization of factors enriched at nascent DNA molecules. Lopez-Contreras AJ, Ruppen I, Nieto-Soler M, Murga M, Rodriguez-Acebes S, Remeseiro S, Rodrigo-Perez S, Rojas AM, Mendez J, Muñoz J, Fernandez-Capetillo O. Cell Reports (2013). doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.03.009

Related Stories

Protein helps fix damaged DNA in yeast

July 30, 2010

( -- Like a scout that runs ahead to spot signs of damage or danger, a protein in yeast safeguards the yeast cells' genome during replication -- a process vulnerable to errors when DNA is copied -- according to ...

Scientists identify molecular basis for DNA breakage

July 19, 2011

Scientists from the Hebrew University have identified the molecular basis for DNA breakage, a hallmark of cancer cells. The findings of this research have just been published in the journal Molecular Cell.

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


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.