Bacteria can hunt and repair precancerous mutations

10 November 2015

Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that MutS, a protein found inside certain bacteria are able to actively seek out and repair genetic mutations that are associated with some types of cancer.

For people with defective versions of the protein, the mutation rate increases tenfold, putting the individual at greater risk of not only cancer, but family cancer syndrome and a genetic disorder known as Lynch syndrome, which also puts sufferers at a greater risk of colon and stomach cancers.

Researcher Lyle Simmons said:"We're adding to the foundation of understanding of how cells avoid mutations. In addition, our work is pushing us to develop microscopy techniques that could be later used to understand how MutS functions in human cells."

It appears that MutS is so effective at its job because it does not look for the origin of the mutation, but instead focuses on finding the site of replication, which is where the danger of uncontrolled growth is greatest.

Posted by Jeanette Royston


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