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How a tumour suppressor repairs DNA

Research Highlights


For the first time, scientists have witnessed new molecular behaviour in proteins that protect us from cancer.

Scientists in the have identified new features of BRCA1–BARD1, a group of proteins that play a critical role in repairing damaged DNA.

Using ground-breaking imaging techniques, thanks to the state-of-the-art equipment at the Astbury and Bragg centres in the University of Leeds, researchers have witnessed BRCA1–BARD1 interacting with nucleosomes - the core units of our DNA - in unprecedented detail.

The paper, “BRCA1–BARD1 combines multiple chromatin recognition modules to bridge nascent nucleosomes,” funded by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and Basser Centre for BRCA, reveals real time images of BRCA1-BARD1 bridging across multiple nucleosomes.

This new knowledge explains how BRCA1–BARD1 can “read” specific marks - modifications that acts as “signposts” - to signal for DNA damage, such as the DNA breaks occurring in cancer.

“The BRCA1 and BARD1 proteins work together to repair damaged DNA in our bodies,” said Dr Martina Foglizzo, Research Fellow in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

“BRCA1–BARD1 complex is particularly important for maintaining healthy cells, as this acts to suppress tumours by stopping cell growth or preventing them from dividing too quickly.”

Read more on the Faculty of Biological Sciences website