The researchers, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Paul Modrich, Ph.D., at Duke, reported their findings in the July 2, 2004, issue of the journal Molecular Cell. Joint first authors on the paper were Leonid Dzantiev, Ph.D., and Nicoleta Constantin, and the other co-authors were Jochen Genschel, Ph.D., Ravi Iyer, Ph.D., and Peter Burgers, Ph.D. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Modrich and his colleagues have long studied the mismatch repair machinery of the cell. This machinery detects and corrects errors in DNA replication in which the wrong DNA unit is stitched into place in a newly forming DNA strand. Normally such units -- called nucleotides -- on one strand of the double-stranded DNA molecule bond with complementary nucleotides on the other strand, like complementary pieces of a puzzle. Thus, an adenine on one strand is normally paired with a thymine on the other, and a guanine on one strand with a cytosine on another.
The process of mismatch repair involves first recognizing the mismatch -- for example of an adenine with a cytosine. The machinery then recognizes a break in the newly synthesized DNA strand, which triggers the machinery to excise the section including the mismatch, starting at the strand break and working toward the mismatch and slightly beyond. The system then replaces the mismatched strand with one containing the correct complementa
Contact: Dennis Meredith
Duke University Medical Center