DNA repair causes damage

A DNA repair mechanism may come at a cost -- cancer-causing mutations, according to a study published this week in Science. DNA ligase repairs chromosomal damageImage: Wikimedia commons, TomEllenberger WashingtonUniversity School of MedicineA supposedly accurate DNA repair mechanism employed by cells to fix double-strand breaks can surprisingly increase the nearby mutation rate by up to 1400 times, providing a possible explanation for the accumulation of tumor-causing mutations in cancerous tis

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jun 30, 2010
A DNA repair mechanism may come at a cost -- cancer-causing mutations, according to a study published this week in Science.
DNA ligase repairs chromosomal damage
Image: Wikimedia commons, Tom
Ellenberger Washington
University School of Medicine
A supposedly accurate DNA repair mechanism employed by cells to fix double-strand breaks can surprisingly increase the nearby mutation rate by up to 1400 times, providing a possible explanation for the accumulation of tumor-causing mutations in cancerous tissues. Previously, "we saw that DNA breaks are present in precancerous legions," said molecular oncologist linkurl:Thanos Halazonetis;http://www.molbio.unige.ch/halazonetis/ of the University of Geneva, who did not participate in the research. "These breaks, based on this finding now, could perhaps explain [some of the] mutations in oncogenes that drive cancer progression." Cancer cells are the subject of unusually high numbers of mutations, but for many cancers, the cause of those mutations is unknown. Chromosomes are commonly rearranged in...
W.M. Hicks, et al., "Increased mutagenesis and unique mutation signature associated wit mitotic gene conversion," Science, 329:82-5, 2010.



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