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News Scientists show how the DNA polymerase epsilon enzyme builds new genomes

Article in 'News' Written by Arul Prakash Published Dec 2, 2013

  1. Umeå University researchers have contributed greatly to our understanding on how mutations trigger cancerous growth by elucidating the process by which DNA polymerase epsilon enzyme builds new genomes.

    The study published in the Nature Structural and Molecular Biology journal showed the process in detail.It was the same team of researchers that showed the importance of epsilon in higher organisms, contributing upto 50% of DNA when a genome is copied.


    X-ray crystallography was extensively used as means to get high definition images of proteins that help epsilon builds the new DNA quickly and accurately. These images allowed researchers to study the process at molecular level leading to the discovery of epsilon's unique protein structure. This unique structure hints at completely different domains of polymerase involved in attaching to DNA while copying.

    Researchers confirmed that the new domain called (P-domain) was vital in holding on to genome while building strands, without which epsilon polymerase cannot fulfill its role in copying DNA and reproducing the genome during cell division.

    Increasingly more studies have been focussed around mapping genome and special mutations in them that can cause tumours and this study is in line with them in linking mutations in epilson with development of colorectal and cervical cancers.

    “The structure of the polymerase that we have solved makes it possible to see where these mutations lead to changes in the structure of DNA polymerase epsilon.Thiscan help us to understand why a certain mutation contributes to the development of a certain cancer“ says Professor Johansson.
    • Arul Prakash

      Article by Arul Prakash

      Editor and founder of BiotechCareer.Org. He is an Industrial Biotechnologists and also a web developer, gooner, blogger, and foodie.

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