19 January 2017

African frog gives insight in sticky DNA

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One of the main features of DNA is its capacity to copy itself. To do so, it needs to unwind its strands to make two new sets of DNA. However, this unwinding process doesn’t always work the way it should work. For example chemotherapy or alcohol use can release certain compounds that make the DNA ‘stick together’ like some kind of glue. This makes it impossible for the DNA strands to divide and thereby replicate themselves to create a new cell. The sort of glue molecules that cause this stiffness are called ICL’s: interstrand crosslinks.

Daisy Klein Douwel from the Puck Knipscheer group will defend her thesis on the ICL’s today, named: “Making the Cut – How XPF-ERCC1 unhooks DNA interstrand crosslinks”. In her thesis she experimented with ways to define the key proteins that have an important role in cutting the sticky DNA parts. By marking the key proteins and their function it might be possible to either promote them in patients that have mutations in their XPF genes or to actually repress them in cancer cells, so the cancer cells will have trouble with dividing themselves.