Researchers from the University of Cambridge claim they created the first ever real time footage of DNA-protein interaction. Here’s what the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in the UK says about the discovery:
Working with researchers in Edinburgh, Japan and India, the Cambridge team used a state-of-the-art microscope, only three of which exist in the world, and a technique known as fast-scan atomic force microscopy (AFM). Before now, scientists could only make assumptions as to how proteins and DNA interact based on indirect evidence but this new window on a fundamental biological process gives them the opportunity to view how the interaction actually occurs.
Dr Robert Henderson, who led the Cambridge research, explains: “This is the first time that such a process has been seen in real time. To be able see these nano-mechanisms as they are really happening is incredibly exciting. We can actually see the enzyme ‘threading’ through a loop in the virus’s DNA in order to lock on to and break it, a process known as DNA cleavage.
“The microscope and new techniques give us a clear view of the molecular interactions between proteins and DNA that we could only previously interpret indirectly. The indirect methods require scientists to make assumptions to interpret their data, and video footage like this can help to provide a more direct understanding of what is really happening.
“Standard technology for filming on this scale can only produce one image frame every 8 minutes. However, our new work allows one frame per 500 – or fewer, milliseconds.”
The footage shows a bacterial type III restriction enzyme attaching itself to the DNA of a virus, in order to break the DNA before the virus has the chance to infect the bacterium. However, this could also provide a model for understanding how other enzymes and DNA, in any type of organism, including humans, interact.
“This helps us understand how enzymes recognise which bit of a DNA strand to latch onto, which is important in understanding how proteins repair damaged DNA. In the long term, this could help in the search for cancer treatments, as cancer sometimes occurs where DNA is damaged but enzymes do not behave correctly in order to repair it.”
Press release: Scientists reveal DNA-enzyme interaction with first ever real time footage …
Watch the video here…
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