Images of a Replisome Offer a New Look at DNA Replication

By Cerise Carey

DNA Replication

Scientists have never been able to capture an image of the molecules behind DNA replication until now. A team of researchers from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Rockefeller University, including Dr. Huilin Li of Stony Brook University’s Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, were able to produce the first real structural image of a replisome using electron microscopy techniques. A replisome is the protein complex made up of two polymerases and a helicase that carries out DNA replication. It was previously believed that the two polymerases were located at the back of the replisome complex. However, the team’s first-ever images of a replisome showed something different: one of the polymerases is located at the back of the protein, while the other is on the front. This would mean that before DNA replication, one split DNA strand would need to thread back through or around the complex in order to reach the polymerase at the front. These new findings are monumental in our understanding of the mechanisms of DNA replication. Further research should look into the functional implications of these findings, as well as the relation between this unexpected replisome shape and biological processes.

Research team achieves first image of molecular machinery that copies DNA. Stony Brook Newsroom. (2015).

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