May 4, 2012


A needle in a haystack: how does a broken DNA molecule get repaired?

(May 3, 2012)  Scientists from the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology have discovered a key element in the mechanism of DNA repair. When the DNA double helix breaks, the broken end goes searching for the similar sequence and uses that as a template for repair. Using a smart new dual-molecule technique, the Delft group has now found out how the DNA molecule is able to perform this search and recognition process in such an efficient way. This week, the researchers report their findings in Molecular Cell.

A staggering problem Sometimes, the DNA double helix gets broken: both strands are accidentally cut. This presents a vital problem because cells cannot cope with such damaged DNA. Genomic DNA instabilities such as these, are a known cause of cancer. The good news is that an intricate DNA repair system exists which is impressively error-proof and efficient. How does this work?