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Revealing the Secrets of How Cancers Could Occur

In an article recently published in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of Toronto, along with scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital, demonstrated how what they call DNA ambulances work. These DNA ambulances transport severely injured DNA to specialized locations, or hospitals, within the cell to be repaired. In addition to the mode of transport, the researchers also found the road traveled by these healing transporters.

The researchers used yeast cells to show that a large protein complex (the ambulance), the kinesin-14 motor protein complex (Cik1-Kar3), works with chromatin remodelers to coordinate the actions of the DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and Nup84, a protein in the nuclear pore complex (NPC; the hospital). DSBs have previously been shown to be targeted to the NPC for repair. The team found that the NPC repairs the damaged DNA incorrectly, in a process known as break-induced replication (BIR), which is a cellular error-prone DNA repair process. This inaccurate DNA is able to replicate and is what could lead to cancer.

Furthermore, using advanced microscopy techniques, the researchers were able to track the damaged DNA in living cells. They found that the kinesin-14 protein complex is required for the damaged DNA to be able to change location within the nucleus. Since a large number of diseases can be tracked back to problems with the DNA code, this study is crucial in better understanding what we need to target in order to develop better, more effective therapies. Currently, the team is searching for more DNA ambulances and roads since they suspect that more exist.

Source: University of Toronto

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