Finding that 1-in-a-billion that could lead to disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Errors in the genetic code can give rise to cancer and a host of other diseases, but finding these errors can be more difficult than looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. Now, scientists at Johns Hopkins have uncovered how the tiny protein-machines in cells tasked to search for such potentially life-threatening genetic damage actually recognize DNA errors.

Appearing online next week in Nature, the Hopkins team describes how the UDG enzyme (for uracil DNA glycosylase) scrutinizes the shape of DNA building blocks by holding onto them and testing their fit into a specially sized pocket. The UDG pocket holds onto mistakes only

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