University of Vermont Scientists’ 3-D Protein Snapshot Highlights Potential Breast Cancer Drug Target

University of Vermont Scientists’ 3-D Protein Snapshot Highlights Potential Breast Cancer Drug Target
Cell genomes are under constant attack, incurring DNA damage requiring an array of repair mechanisms to keep cells healthy and vital. DNA polymerases are enzymes that create DNA molecules by assembling nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA -- enzymes essential to DNA replication that usually work in pairs in order to create two identical DNA strands from a single original DNA molecule. During this process, DNA polymerase reads existing DNA strands to create two new strands that match the existing ones. Understanding the behavior of enzymes that defend cells against assault helps in determining how and where cancer gets a foothold and flourishes. New research by scientists at the University of Vermont, and published online 16 March 2015 in advance of print by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, shows that one DNA polymerase enzyme -- human DNA polymerase theta (POLQ) -- may be hold promise as a drug therapy target for combating breast cancer. The paper, entitled "Human DNA polymerase grasps the primer terminus to mediate DNA repair" (Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2015) doi:10.1038/nsmb.2993), is coauthored by Karl E. Zahn, April M. Averill, and Sylvie Doublié of the University of Vermont Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Burlington, Vermont, Pierre Aller of Diamond Light Source in Didcot, Oxfordshire, UK, and Richard D. Wood of the Department of the Epigenetics & Molecular Carcinogenesis department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Smithville, Texas
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