Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Diving Into Life
29 September 2014

Diving Into Life

Our genetic code is held in each of our cells in the form of tightly packed DNA. It’s the template of all the essential information for an organism’s life and must be faithfully copied each and every time a cell divides. Mistakes in the duplication of the double helix of DNA can have catastrophic consequences such as genetic abnormalities and cancer. A protein called MCM2-7 is responsible for separating the two DNA strands during the process of replication. Using electron microscopy and bioinformatics technology on Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast proteins researchers have now revealed the 3D arrangement of MCM2-7 (computer model pictured). Modelling the structure of this hexameric [made up of six subunits] protein provides insights into how it interacts with the double helix of DNA and allows its separation and duplication as cells divide.

Written by Silvia Tognetti

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