Nav: Home

DNA replication machinery captured at atom-level detail

July 15, 2019

(MEMPHIS, Tenn. - July 15, 2019) Life depends on double-stranded DNA unwinding and separating into single strands that can be copied for cell division. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have determined at atomic resolution the structure of machinery that drives the process. The research appears today in the journal Nature Communications.

The process may also help to solve what the study's senior researcher called one of the greatest mysteries of biology: How double-stranded DNA separates into single strands to start the replication process. "Based on the crystal structure in this research, we propose that a rotary mechanism drives the transformation to initiate DNA replication," said Eric Enemark, Ph.D., an associate member of the St. Jude Department of Structural Biology.

Before cells divide, their DNA must be precisely copied in a process called replication. This research focused on a ring-shaped enzyme called the minichromosome maintenance or MCM complex that plays a central role. During DNA replication, the MCM complex is positioned at the fork where double-stranded DNA separates into single strands. Those strands are copied to produce a new DNA molecule.

Enemark and his colleagues have produced the first atomic resolution image of the MCM complex bound to single-strand DNA and the molecules that fuel replication.

The image captured key structural details, including the orientation of both the MCM complex and single-strand DNA. The elements illustrated how the process works like a pulley system to "pull" a single strand of DNA through the MCM complex and unwind the DNA.

The same mechanism may also explain how DNA replication begins, Enemark said. Prior to cell division, double-stranded DNA is encircled by two separate MCM complex enzymes. Based on the newly determined structure of the replication machinery, the researchers proposed that the MCM complexes begin to move in different directions, leading to separation of double-stranded DNA into single strands.

"This single event is at the heart of cell division and presents the essence of life in its most streamlined form," he said.
-end-
The co-first authors are Martin Meagher, Ph.D., of the Enemark laboratory and Leslie Epling, formerly of St. Jude and now of Incyte Research Institute, Wilmington, Delaware.

The research was supported in part by a grant (GM098771) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; a grant (CA021765) from the National Cancer Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health; and ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude.

St. Jude Media Relations Contacts

Marvin Stockwell
Desk: 901-595- 6384
Cell: 901-734-8766
marvin.stockwell@stjude.org
media@stjude.org

Michael Sheffield
Desk: (901) 595-0221
Cell: (901) 379-6072
Michael.Sheffield@stjude.org
media@stjude.org

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food -- because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Related Dna Articles:

Zigzag DNA
How the cell organizes DNA into tightly packed chromosomes. Nature publication by Delft University of Technology and EMBL Heidelberg.
Scientists now know what DNA's chaperone looks like
Researchers have discovered the structure of the FACT protein -- a mysterious protein central to the functioning of DNA.
DNA is like everything else: it's not what you have, but how you use it
A new paradigm for reading out genetic information in DNA is described by Dr.
A new spin on DNA
For decades, researchers have chased ways to study biological machines.
From face to DNA: New method aims to improve match between DNA sample and face database
Predicting what someone's face looks like based on a DNA sample remains a hard nut to crack for science.
Self-healing DNA nanostructures
DNA assembled into nanostructures such as tubes and origami-inspired shapes could someday find applications ranging from DNA computers to nanomedicine.
DNA design that anyone can do
Researchers at MIT and Arizona State University have designed a computer program that allows users to translate any free-form drawing into a two-dimensional, nanoscale structure made of DNA.
DNA find
A Queensland University of Technology-led collaboration with University of Adelaide reveals that Australia's pint-sized banded hare-wallaby is the closest living relative of the giant short-faced kangaroos which roamed the continent for millions of years, but died out about 40,000 years ago.
DNA structure impacts rate and accuracy of DNA synthesis
DNA sequences with the potential to form unusual conformations, which are frequently associated with cancer and neurological diseases, can in fact slow down or speed up the DNA synthesis process and cause more or fewer sequencing errors.
Changes in mitochondrial DNA control how nuclear DNA mutations are expressed in cardiomyopathy
Differences in the DNA within the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures within cells, can determine the severity and progression of heart disease caused by a nuclear DNA mutation.
More DNA News and DNA Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Flag and the Fury
How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained "officially" flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.