Research on mutation 'hotspots' in DNA could lead to new insights on cancer risks
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IMAGE: E. coli bacteria was used to study the sequences in DNA where the risk for mutation is significantly elevated. view more 

Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — New research from Indiana University has identified “hotspots” in DNA where the risk for genetic mutations is significantly elevated.

These mutations arise because “typos” can occur as DNA replicates during cellular division. A recent analysis, which found that random mistakes in DNA play a large role in many cancer types, underscores the need to understand more about what triggers these errors.

The IU-led research, conducted in E. coli, appears in two papers in the “Highlights” section of the August issue of the journal Genetics. The “hotspots” identified are specific to E. coli and related bacterium, but the work could provide a roadmap to identifying similar trouble spots in human DNA.

“This research gets us closer to understanding how the cell’s replication machinery interacts with DNA,” said Patricia Foster, a professor emerita in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology. “If you can understand exactly why an error occurs at a particular point on the DNA in bacteria, it gets you closer to

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