Washington: For the first time, scientists have "discovered how a key step in human DNA replication is performed."Part of the DNA replication process -- in humans and in other life forms -- involves loading of molecular structures called sliding clamps onto DNA.This crucial step in DNA replication had remained somewhat mysterious and had not been well studied in human DNA replication.Mark Hedglin, a post-doctoral researcher in Penn State University``s Department of Chemistry and a member of Benkovic``s team, explained that the sliding clamp is a ring-shaped protein that acts to encircle the DNA strand, latching around it like a watch band.The sliding clamp then serves to anchor special enzymes called polymerases to the DNA, ensuring efficient copying of the genetic material. "Without a sliding clamp, polymerases can copy very few bases -- the molecular ``letters`` that make up the code of DNA -- at a time.But the clamp helps the polymerase to stay in place, allowing it to copy thousands of bases before being removed from the strand of DNA," Hedglin said.
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