In the July 16 issue of the journal Science, Rutgers-Newark chemistry professor Babis Kalodimos offers a solution to this puzzle in his paper, "Structure and Flexibility Adaptation in Nonspecific and Specific Protein-DNA Complexes." Kalodimos' findings may be the clue researchers need to develop future methods to inhibit the expression of certain genes that may pre-dispose individuals to harmful diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Through the use of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Kalodimos and his co-workers were able to determine how proteins slide along the lengthy strands forming the helix structure of DNA until they reach their intended destination a specific DNA sequence. More important, they illustrated in detail how proteins single out their partner DNA out of millions of non-functional ones.
To better understand the scope of the question facing researchers, consider that billions of DNA codes exist within an individual's genetic make-up and the protein must work its way through millions of non-specific DNA sequences in order to locate the correct connection.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a chemical structure that forms chromosomes. Structurally, DNA is a double helix made up of two strands of genetic material spiraled around each other. Each strand contains a sequence of bases (also called nucleotides). A base is one of four chemicals (adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine). The two strands of DNA are connected at each
Contact: Peter Haigney
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey