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Proteins point to designer drugs


Proteins that turn genes on and off may be exploited to create new designer drugs, according to research scientists at the University of Arizona in Tucson, USA.

They have been tracking the methods that proteins use to accurately determine the information that is encoded in a sequence of DNA. Nancy Horton and her colleagues have found that a protein known to use what is known as the “hug method”, or direct readout, can effectively pinpoint sites on DNA using indirect readout.

“It was a total surprise,” she said.

Quick and accurate identification of key sites on DNA is important for the health of all kinds of cells, from bacteria to humans.

To detect the protein DNA connection in such detail, Horton and her co-authors, Elizabeth Little and Andrea Babic studied a DNA binding protein that bacteria use to protect themselves from viral infections

Horton said: “We found that indirect readout is important for finding the right sequence, and we now think indirect readout is also important for finding it quickly.”

The team published their paper, “Early Interrogation and Recognition of DNA Sequence by Indirect Readout,” in the December issue of the journal Structure.

Copyright Press Association 2008

University of Arizona

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