Alessandro Vindigni, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry, recently published a paper in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology detailing his studies on how cells manage replication stress, allowing them to overcome DNA lesions or replication-fork obstacles in order to produce viable daughter cells and transmission of the genetic code.
Cell stressors can include exposure to free radicals, UV radiation, X-rays, or chemicals, and can cause DNA lesions as often as 100,000 times per day. These lesions block the progress of replication forks during DNA replication. Cells use several methods to overcome these stressors: fork repriming, fork reversal, fork degradation and backtracking, replication-fork breakage, and replisome dynamics during replication-fork restart. Each method allows the cell to repair the obstacle and avoid passing on genetic mutations or losing genetic information. Understanding these cellular mechanisms can help scientists develop preventions and treatments for diseases, including cancer.