How DNA repair helps prevent cancer

Aug. 16, 2013 — The biological information that makes us unique is encoded in our DNA. DNA damage is a natural biological occurrence that happens every time cells divide and multiply. External factors such as overexposure to sunlight can also damage DNA.

Understanding how the human body recognizes damaged DNA and initiates repair fascinates Michael Feig, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University. Feig studies the proteins MutS and MSH2-MSH6, which recognize defective DNA and initiate DNA repair. Natural DNA repair occurs when proteins like MutS (the primary protein responsible for recognizing a variety of DNA mismatches) scan the DNA, identify a defect, and recruit other enzymes to carry out the actual repair.

“The key here is to understand how these defects are recognized,” Feig explained. “DNA damage occurs frequently and if you couldn’t repair your DNA, then you won’t live for very long.” This is because damaged DNA, if left unrepaired, can compromise cells and lead to diseases such as cancer.

via How DNA repair helps prevent cancer.

 

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