The Herald

Traffic light system helps cells ‘avoid DNA damage’


SCIENTISTS have discovered a “traffic light system” used in cells that helps protect against DNA damage linked to cancer.

Enzymes known to be vital to cell division, the process in which a parent cell divides into two daughter cells containing the same DNA content, were studied by researcher­s at the University of Dundee.

If the division goes wrong and the DNA is not partitione­d equally, then diseases such as cancer can arise. However, to prevent that happening the cell uses two classes of enzymes, known as kinases and phosphatas­es, to monitor division.

Dr Adrian Saurin said: “Kinases and phosphatas­es control a traffic signal that tells cells whether it’s safe to divide or not.

“If this goes wrong then cells can crash and damage their DNA in ways that could lead to cancer.

“It was previously assumed that the kinases put the signal on red and then, when it is safe, the phosphatas­es wipe that signal out and turn it green again. What we found is that it doesn’t work quite like that.”

He added that “a better analogy is that the phosphatas­e pulls the plug to turn the lights out when the time is right. This is important because it may allow us to appreciate how errors occur during cell division in cancer cells”.

The research was published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom