Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Medicine Biotech

Scientists Discover How To Track Natural Errors In DNA Replication 19

BarbaraHudson writes Researchers figured out how to label and keep track of new pieces of DNA, and learned to follow the enzyme responsible for copying those pieces. Their research focused on enzymes called polymerases. These enzymes create small regions in DNA that act as scaffolds for the copied DNA. Scientists assumed that the body deletes the scaffolds containing errors, or mutations, and the standard computer models supported this theory. However, the actual research showed that about 1.5 percent of those erroneous scaffolds are left over, trapped within the DNA. After running models, scientists now believe they can track how DNA replicates and find the most likely areas where these scaffolds with errors turn up. The erroneous scaffolds usually appear close to genetic switches, those regions that turn on when genes activate. The mutations damage the switch, which results in genetic disease, as well as increasing the likelihood of cancer.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Discover How To Track Natural Errors In DNA Replication

Comments Filter:
  • It's amazing... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smaddox ( 928261 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @07:57PM (#48928519)

    It's amazing that we're able to learn so much (regardless of how little it really is) about something so mind-bogglingly complicated. Biological processes make quantum mechanics look like child's play.

    • Look at the medical advances over the last 30 years, and it's kind of hard to imagine where we're going to be in another 30.
  • Scientists Discover How To Track Natural Errors In DNA Replication

    "Scientists"?! Yeah, "scientists" from the NSA, maybe!!!! Those fuckers will stop at NOTHING to track every damn little thing and now this?! What did poor little DNA ever do to you, you fascist bastards?!

  • Isn't this a problem for Evolution proponents.
    Evolution requires that beneficial DNA mutations win out over non-beneficial.

    Lets say DNA is like a self replicating VM. The VM has built in error correction but occasionally a copy error occurs. The premise of evolution, is this copy error is occasionally beneficial and the non beneficial errors eventually die out, but the spectrum of copy errors can cause vastly different outcomes. Sometimes a copy error may change an eye color, or cause a miscarriage.
    The ques

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      The part you're missing is selection. The harmful mutations either fail to reproduce altogether or they reproduce at a lower rate than the good ones. Actual experiments show that you can actually randomly mutate a program and if you have a good selection function, you can actually evolve new functionality.

      The catch is that the evolution tends to 'find' really odd solutions.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Evidence of non-random mutation rates suggests an evolutionary risk management strategy"

      "Do genetic mutations really occur at random spots along the genome, as researchers have long supposed? Maybe not, according to a study published online today (January 13) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which proposes a mechanism for how new mutations

      • Of course, there's also the fact that each of us harbors about 60 mutations [] - stuff we didn't inherit from either parent.
      • by labnet ( 457441 )

        Those are interesting points.

        I read 'Darwins Black Box' by Behe many years ago, and thought he made good rational arguments about irreducible complexity.

        When a genetic mutation occurs, there will be a continuum of effect, from new feature to no effect to death.
        Natural selection will only have a certain forcing effect that is weighted to the 'death' end of the scale.

        The problem I have with evolution, is the vast majority of any random mutation will be non beneficial and that this process will happen faster t

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.