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Scientists Identify Elusive ‘DNA Ambulance’

posted: 07/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
DNA strand
BehondlingEye/iStock

Canadian researches have discovered an elusive mechanism that assists in the repair of damaged DNA cells. The so-called "DNA ambulance" is comprised of a motor protein complex, which transports damaged DNA to a cellular "hospital" for repair.

It is important to note that the DNA ambulance can actually contribute to the development of cancer. As it turns out, the hospital can end up repairing damaged cells inaccurately, ultimately doing more harm than good:

"This process allows cells to survive an injury, but at a great cost," explains study author Karim Mekhail, of the University of Toronto. "The cell has a compromised genome, but it's stable and can be replicated, and that's usually a recipe for disaster."

"Cancer often occurs when our chromosomes break and are misrepaired," adds study co-author Daniel Durocher. "This work teaches us that the location of the break within the cell's nucleus has a big impact on the efficiency of repair."

Researchers made the discovery by using advanced microscopy to study the behavior of yeast cells. The team believes that there could still be more cellular ambulances that have yet to be identified.

Mekhail hopes that the team's research can be used to more effectively target anti-cancer drugs. His research is published in the current edition of the journal Nature Communications.

Click here for more information from the University of Toronto

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