A protein in yeast that safeguards the yeast cells' genome during replication, researchers have found. The latter is a process vulnerable to errors when DNA is copied.
Researchers from Cornell University's Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology said that protein Mec1 plays the role of "guardian of the genome," explained Marcus Smolka, assistant professor of molecular biology and genetics.
It monitors and repairs the machinery responsible for replicating the DNA.
Damaged DNA can stop replication, but Mec1 coordinates the repair of the machinery and the DNA itself, allowing it to restart and continue replicating.
uring the replication process, Mec1 accumulates at trouble spots such as lesions in the DNA or other blocks to replication.
Mutations to the human genes that produce Mec1 and related proteins can lead to cancer predisposition and neurological disorders.
On the other hand, cancer cells employ their own similar replication repair system, so understanding the process may help researchers design interventions that interrupt replication of cancer DNA.
The results are detailed in the journal Molecular Cell.