Gene Instruction Is Key Player In Ability To Detect And Repair DNA Damage
Scientists know that inside each cell, a little engine called RNA polymerase II does one essential job: It copies instructions from genes in the nucleus that get carried to production units in the rest of the cell to support our daily needs. Now researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School have shown that RNA polymerase II also constantly scans the cell's DNA for damage. When certain types of damage in DNA halt the action of RNA polymerase II, a stress signal is generated that alerts a key tumor-suppressor protein called p53.
The activities of p53, a master protein that responds to DNA damage by marshaling hundreds of genes to repair or eliminate damaged cells, have been the subject of thousands of studies. Mutations in the p53 gene occur in more than half of all cancers.