Caltech Study Supports Model for Locating Genetic Damage Through DNA Charge Transport

Essentially, the model suggests that two DNA-bound repair proteins can use DNA like a wire to shuttle electrons between themselves—a process called charge transport. When one protein receives an electron from the other, its affinity for the DNA to which it clings decreases, causing the protein to fall off that strand. If instead, a lesion—a structural defect in the DNA—prevents that electron from being transferred between the proteins, both members of the pair remain bound to the DNA and begin inching toward the problem area. Since this signaling can be achieved over long molecular distances, the model could explain how it is that the relatively few repair proteins in our cells are able to scour so much genetic information to efficiently locate problems.