A molecular 'pair of scissors' that snips out specific chunks of DNA has yielded promising results both in vitro and in cells. It is hoped that the engineered protein, reported in Nature, will lead to treatments for xeroderma pigmentosum and other diseases caused by mutations in single genes.
Patients with xeroderma pigmentosum have a faulty DNA repair pathway and are hypersensitive to ultraviolet light; for this reason, afflicted individuals are particularly prone to skin cancer. Guillermo Montoya and his colleagues have engineered two enzymes that can cleave DNA from the human xeroderma pigmentosum group C gene in vitro and in cellular experiments. The engineered proteins are based on a wild-type homing endonuclease - called I-CreI - which recognizes and cleaves specific DNA sites, and they seem to work by a similar mechanism.
Guillermo Montoya (Spanish National Cancer Center, Madrid, Spain)
(C) Nature press release.
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