Science

IIT-Hyderabad researchers unravel protein that repairs DNA

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on December 26, 2019 Published on December 26, 2019

Representative image   -  Ksenia Omelchenko

In the evolution of life forms, what determines the formation of a bacteria? It’s the Deoxyribonucleac Acid (DNA), which is the blueprint of the life form.

It also encodes the directions that the life form must take.

Any damage to the DNA causes a range of diseases and problems.

Nature has evolved techniques to not only protect the DNA but also repair it to an extent. In humans, one such repair mechanism involves activation of a special class of proteins called ‘DNA repair proteins’.

In a significant development, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH) have unravelled the mechanism of action of a protein ( alkB homolog 3, or ALKBH3) that repairs damaged DNA.

The research team, led by Anindya Roy, is excited about the universality of the mechanism – it is just as applicable to the bacterium as it is to human beings. “The knowledge gained from our studies might, in the long term, be beneficial from a cancer therapeutic perspective,” he claimed.

In view of the key role that DNA damage plays in almost all diseases and maladies, there is a worldwide effort to understand how these repair proteins work, both as an academic exercise and as the foundation for therapeutic interventions, he said.

The IITH team collaborated with Arun Goyal of the IIT Guwahati in the project funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The results have been published in the journal Nucleic Acid Research by the duo along with researchers Monisha Mohan, Deepa Akula and Arun Dhillon.

Typically, damage to DNA can surface from mild changes, such as the sudden appearance of a harmless mole, to catastrophic diseases, such as cancer. The retention of DNA integrity is therefore essential for proper function and survival of all organisms, they explained.

Protection of DNA is daunting because of the possibility of damage by a dynamic external environment. “Our laboratory at IIT Hyderabad seeks to understand the workings of the DNA damage repair proteins. Certain types of chemicals produced naturally in the body can cause damages in DNA and, if not fixed fast, may trigger cell death”, Roy says.

Published on December 26, 2019
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