In 1869, Swiss physiological chemist Friedrich Miescher first identified what he called “nuclein” inside the nuclei of human white blood cells. This was later changed to, DNA. In 1953, the molecular structure of DNA was discovered by Watson and Francis Crick. Since then, one of the most amazing discoveries in genetic research has been the multitudes of protein machines that repair DNA.
Recently, a “fundamentally new” DNA repair mechanism was discovered by researchers at Vanderbilt University! Science Daily describes it this way, “Tucked within its double-helix structure, DNA contains the chemical blueprint that guides all the processes that take place within the cell and are essential for life. Therefore, repairing damage and maintaining the integrity of its DNA is one of the cell’s highest priorities.”
Can you imagine on a good day, your body experiences damage in one million bases in DNA? Toxins, radiation, and just normal chemical activity in the cell can lead to all kinds of problems. Untreated could lead to cancer and death but all is not lost! A well designed scanning system which specializes on detecting problems within the DNA chain.
This newly discovered advanced mechanism found by the Vanderbilt team operates in bacteria. What it does is, it finds the lesion but unlike most known glycosylases, it flips out both the damaged base and the base it is paired with. Why? “This appears to work because the enzyme only operates on deformed bases that have picked up an excess positive charge, making these bases very unstable,” the article says.
What is so amazing about this particular repair mechanism, it’s able to attract other repair enzymes to the site which can speed up the repair process by 100 times! Although, this enzyme is “considerably different from that of other known DNA-binding proteins or enzymes,” with some similarity to a family of “very large molecules that possess a small active site that plays a role in regulating the cells’ response to DNA damage.”
Thankfully, the article doesn’t try to come up with an evolutionary story which wouldn’t reveal any useful information. Learning how things work, is what enhances information. Students and adults alike need biology for the information age based on engineering concepts with highly advanced intelligence behind the design rather than clinging to neo-Darwinian ideas that could not build a computer let alone create new information that DNA stores and programs with such amazing repair mechanisms to keep the cells alive!