The Guardian of our Genome

Lamers lab

The Guardian of our Genome

The guardian of our genome, the protein MutS, scans the DNA for spelling errors and makes sure they are corrected. An essential process for our health. Researcher Meindert Lamers and his group have discovered precisely how this protein works by making MutS visible with cryo-electron microscopy.

"If this protein is missing, 100 to 1,000 times more mutations occur in our DNA which inevitably leads to cancer. This is the case, for example, in people with Lynch syndrome." 

In other words, it is an important protein. But it was still unknown exactly how this protein works. In an earlier publication, Lamers and colleagues described different structures of MutS on DNA. "Using cryo-electron microscopy, we found out that MutS can have multiple forms," Lamers explains. "As a result, it is able to perform many different functions." After all, it not only scours the DNA for errors, but also hits the alarm when it finds one and calls in the help of assistants. "Together with these assistants, MutS ensures that the DNA at the crime scene is cut, unraveled and then repaired."

In the current publication (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41594-021-00707-1), the Lamers lab went further and determined more structures of MutS. These structures explained how MutS uses ATP molecules as a fuel for the movements occurring during the repair process. In the video below, you can see the incredible molecular acrobatics that MutS execute to repair mistakes in our DNA.

Read the entire article on lumc.nl.


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