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DNA cable tie vital role in cancer prevention

05/03/2019

DNA cable tie vital role in cancer prevention

A cable tie-style ring of proteins that hold our chromosomes together as they replicate play a vital role in stopping DNA damage leading to cancer, according to new research.

A team of scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London found that this ring of proteins, called cohesin, helps to stop DNA from being transcribed while it is severely damaged.

The researchers – funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK – also found that when cohesion is unable to protect DNA, it repairs with more mistakes – which can lead to cancer.

Cohesin is made up of a number of proteins that work together to hold strands of DNA in place. These proteins are often mutated in cancer cells – for example, around 20% of bladder cancer cases carry a mutation to the cohesin protein SA2.

This has led many researchers to conclude that cohesin helps to prevent cancer by holding chromosomes together during cell division, ensuring both cells get the right number of chromosomes at the end.

However, Professor Jessica Downs’ team at the ICR reasoned that cohesion must be involved in preventing cancer in other ways, because some cancers with mutations in their cohesin proteins do not have the wrong number of chromosomes.

The findings were featured on the front cover of the journal Molecular Cell.

Further information

Medical Research Council – cancer research

 


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