Motor enzyme protects genome through several mechanisms

phys.org | 2/11/2019 | Staff
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A helicase, Pfh1, can thanks to several different mechanisms protect the genome from DNA obstacles and damages associated with cancer. This is shown in a new doctoral thesis at Umeå University, Sweden.

Approximately one per cent of each organism's genome encodes helicases. Helicases are mostly known as motor enzymes that can unwrap double-stranded DNA by use of energy.

Thesis - Department - Medical - Chemistry - Biophysics

In his doctoral thesis at the Department of Medical Chemistry and Biophysics, Jani Basha Mohammad focused on the evolutionary conserved Pif1 family helicases that are associated to breast cancer. Jani performed a detailed mechanistic study about how the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe Pif1 helicase, Pfh1, can maintain genome integrity. In S. pombe, Pfh1 is encoded by an essential gene and depletion of this gene leads to DNA damage.

DNA molecules are known to form a double-stranded DNA helix with two strands wrapping around each other. However, in his thesis Jani also studied another form of DNA which forms a four-stranded DNA in guanine-rich DNA regions, a so-called G4 structure. G4 structures are very stable structures, and need to be resolved by specialized helicases. If not unfolded, they can lead to DNA damage and genome instability, which is tightly connected to diseases such as cancer. Jani Basha Mohammad and his colleagues showed that Pfh1 is one...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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