It could almost be a misplaced blob of porridge or a crunchy piece of popcorn. But this is a 3D-printed model of the enzyme DNA helicase and associated proteins. Scientists at the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC) create these models to help them to visualise how hundreds of tiny proteins come together inside our cells to form a complex 'machine', which copies the cell’s DNA. It's not yet known exactly how this machine works. Our DNA is stored as two strands joined together like a zip. Scientists know that DNA helicase unzips the strands by binding to one of them and pulling it through the centre of its ring. Now the CSC team has shown that DNA helicase can only do its job if another of the machine’s components, a protein called Cdc6, first clears the way. Cdc6 is crucial to keeping the cellular production line on track.
Written by Deborah Oakley
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