Doe Science news source
The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2017-12-04 20:05:50
  • Article ID: 686185

Research Zooms in on Enzyme That Repairs DNA Damage from UV Rays

Biochemical 'action shots' with SLAC's X-ray laser could help scientists develop synthetic enzymes for medicine and answer fundamental questions about how enzymes change during chemical reactions.

  • Credit: Miyuki Dougherty/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    SLAC associate staff scientist Thomas Joseph Lane at the Coherent X-Ray Imaging (CXI) instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

  • Credit: Colored illustration by Dave Goodsell/PDB-101

    UV light creates damaging links between atoms in the DNA building block thymine. An enzyme called photolyase, which is triggered by a different wavelength of light, cuts them out and repairs the damage.

  • Credit: Thomas Joseph Lane/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Top: An optical microscope image of crystallized photolyase enzymes before they are probed by the LCLS X-ray laser. Bottom: An X-ray diffraction pattern from the photolyase crystals. These patterns, made by X-rays interacting with atoms in the crystal, are used to determine the structure of the molecule.

A research team at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) to study an enzyme found in plants, bacteria and some animals that repairs DNA damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light rays.

By studying this enzyme, called DNA photolyase, with the ultrabright and ultrafast pulses of the LCLS X-ray laser, researchers finally have the opportunity to watch the enzyme in action as it catalyzes a chemical reaction in real time and at the atomic scale to resolve longstanding debates about how these enzymes work. Ultimately, this knowledge could be used to engineer improved synthetic versions of enzymes that drive crucial reactions in biological systems, or to produce novel enzymes that do not exist in nature.

“The biochemical reactions performed by enzymes are at the heart of the adaptability and efficiency of living things,” says Thomas Joseph Lane, an associate staff scientist at LCLS. “But the details of how enzymes work is hidden in chemical processes that occur on extremely short timescales, down to millionths of a billionth of a second, so we needed LCLS to reveal their secrets.”

A Powerful Repair Machine

In just a few seconds, ultraviolet light from the sun can damage DNA by creating hundreds of unwanted links within DNA’s double helix. These modifications make the genetic material bulky and unreadable by DNA replication tools, leading to permanent mutations that can cause cancer and other diseases if left unrepaired.

But the same sunlight that carries damaging UV rays also contains blue light that can induce photolyase to quickly repair any DNA damage.

Photolyase is thought to be one reason why plants – that have hours of exposure to the sun each day – are less susceptible to UV damage than humans, who lack photolyase. Humans and other mammals must fall back on alternative DNA repair mechanisms (or avoid going out into the sun altogether).

Using an Ultrafast X-ray Camera

With LCLS, researchers now have access to some of the fastest and brightest X-ray laser pulses in the world to study how living things defend themselves from UV damage.

Earlier this year, for instance, a team of scientists led by Thomas Wolf, an associate staff scientist at SLAC, used LCLS to see the first step of a protective process that prevents UV damage in the DNA building block thymine.

“Before LCLS, other X-ray ‘cameras’ were too slow,” Lane explains. “Trying to precisely image enzymes and other proteins with those X-ray sources would be like trying to take an action shot of Michael Phelps swimming with an old camera. You would only get a few blurry images over his entire 100-yard butterfly event, which would hardly make for an exciting or informative photo.”

But with LCLS, he says, “Imagine a series of high-resolution shots in sequence – you would be able to capture every drop of water and every twist of Phelps’ wrist as he butterflies. That’s what LCLS lets us do when visualizing enzyme activity.” 

Building Better Enzymes

In contrast to Wolf’s experiment on how DNA protects itself from damage, Lane’s team is studying how photolyase repairs UV damage once protective mechanisms have failed. Photolyase can be controlled with great precision by exposing it to light, making it an ideal enzyme to study using laser-generated light.

To see photolyase chemistry in detail, the researchers activated the enzyme with a carefully controlled light pulse from a laser. They subsequently exposed the enzyme to the LCLS-generated X-ray pulse, creating a characteristic X-ray scatter pattern in a specialized detector. The analysis of scattered X-ray data revealed chemical and structural changes in the enzyme at atomic level and occuring at a time scale of a millionth of a billionth of a second.

One of the ultimate goals of studying the enzymatic DNA repair process is to engineer synthetic enzymes that mimic but are even better than those found in nature.

“There are still some major gaps in our understanding of how enzymes work, highlighted by the fact that man-made enzymes have yet to match nature’s performance,” says Lane. “We hope our experiments here at LCLS will help us bridge those gaps, getting us closer to understanding and harnessing the chemistry living things do every day.”

The research team studying the photolyase repair mechanism includes scientists at SLAC, the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Germany, Chapman University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, the Ohio State University, Stanford University, and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. 

LCLS is a DOE Office of Science user facility.


SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, Calif., SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more information, please visit slac.stanford.edu.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

X
X
X
  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Beta of Neurodata Without Borders Software Now Available

Neuroscientists can now explore a beta version of the new Neurodata Without Borders: Neurophysiology (NWB:N 2.0) software and offer input to developers before it is fully released next year.

Scientists Discover Path to Improving Game-Changing Battery Electrode

Researchers from Stanford University, two Department of Energy national labs and the battery manufacturer Samsung created a comprehensive picture of how the same chemical processes that give cathodes their high capacity are also linked to changes in atomic structure that sap performance.

ESnet's Petascale DTN Project Speeds up Data Transfers between Leading HPC Centers

A new Petascale Data Transfer Node project aims to to achieve regular disk-to-disk, end-to-end transfer rates of one petabyte per week between major supercomputing facilities, which translates to achievable throughput rates of about 15 Gbps on real world science data sets.

Underappreciated Microbes Now Get Credit for Holding Down Two Jobs in Soil

Soil microbes work as both decomposers and synthesizers of carbon compounds in soil, offering new answers with impacts to crops and eco-health.

Energy, Economy, and the Earth: The Benefits of Creating Feedback Loops

Scientists reduce uncertainties in future climate prediction by directly coupling an energy-economy model to an Earth system model.

How Grasslands Regulate Their Productivity in Response to Droughts

Scientists show that grasslands are more sensitive to changes in the amount of moisture in the air than to changes in precipitation.

Building Confidence in Hydrologic Models

Scientists evaluate seven hydrologic models to understand how each model agrees and differs.

New Research Shows Hydropower Dams Can Be Managed Without an All-or-Nothing Choice Between Energy and Food

Nearly 100 hydropower dams are planned for construction along tributaries off the Mekong River's 2,700-mile stretch. In Science Magazine, researchers present a mathematical formula to balance power generation needs with needs of fisheries downstream.

El Nino and Liquid Water Clouds Contribute to Antarctic Melt in 2015-2016

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) observations provide clues on atmospheric contributions to an Antarctic melt event.

Designer Yeast Consumes Plant Matter and Spits Out Fatty Alcohols for Detergents and Biofuels

Highest concentration and yield of valuable chemicals reported in industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Stewart Prager Honored with FPA Distinguished Career Award

Announcement of Fusion Power Associates career award for Stewart Prager

WVU Physicists Among Collaborators Granted $7 Million to Form U.S. Department of Energy Center of Excellence

Scientists pause each afternoon at Kirtland Air Force Base in Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, awaiting the daily lightning flash and unmistakable floor jolt that accompanies a Z shot

US Dept. Of Energy Grant to Advance Combined Heat and Power Systems in the Midwest

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help industrial, commercial, institutional and utility entities evaluate and install highly efficient combined heat and power (CHP) technologies.CHP, also known as cogeneration, is a single system that produces both thermal energy and electricity.

Applications Open: ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship 2018-2019

ECS, in a continued partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

Successful Startup Founder to Lead Entrepreneurship Program at Argonne

John Carlisle has been named the director of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), a program aimed at accelerating job creation through innovation, based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

Department of Energy Supports Argonne Nuclear Technologies

This fall, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced nearly $4.7 million in funding for the department's Argonne National Laboratory across 16 projects in three divisions. Four of those TCF awards, representing more than $1 million in funds, are slated for Argonne's Nuclear Engineering division.

Southern Research Develops Gasifier Technology to Unlock Coal's Potential

Southern Research has been selected to receive nearly $1.7 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding to develop a new, cost-efficient gasifier capable of converting low-grade coal into synthesis gas (syngas) that can be used in a number of applications.

CEBAF Begins Operations following Upgrade Completion

The world's most advanced particle accelerator for investigating the quark structure of matter is gearing up to begin its first experiments following official completion of an upgrade to triple its original design energy. The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility is now back online and ramping up for the start of experiments.

Chory and Walter Awarded Breakthrough Prizes

HHMI Investigators Joanne Chory and Peter Walter are among five scientists honored for transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.

Shantenu Jha Named Chair of Brookhaven Lab's Center for Data-Driven Discovery

Jha--a computational scientist who holds a joint appointment as an associate professor at Rutgers University--will lead a center that provides the focal point for data science research and development.


  • Filters

  • × Clear Filters

Underappreciated Microbes Now Get Credit for Holding Down Two Jobs in Soil

Soil microbes work as both decomposers and synthesizers of carbon compounds in soil, offering new answers with impacts to crops and eco-health.

Energy, Economy, and the Earth: The Benefits of Creating Feedback Loops

Scientists reduce uncertainties in future climate prediction by directly coupling an energy-economy model to an Earth system model.

How Grasslands Regulate Their Productivity in Response to Droughts

Scientists show that grasslands are more sensitive to changes in the amount of moisture in the air than to changes in precipitation.

Building Confidence in Hydrologic Models

Scientists evaluate seven hydrologic models to understand how each model agrees and differs.

El Nino and Liquid Water Clouds Contribute to Antarctic Melt in 2015-2016

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) observations provide clues on atmospheric contributions to an Antarctic melt event.

Designer Yeast Consumes Plant Matter and Spits Out Fatty Alcohols for Detergents and Biofuels

Highest concentration and yield of valuable chemicals reported in industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Making Polymer Chemistry Click

Scientists unlock the key to efficiently make a new class of engineering polymers.

Photosynthesis without Cells: Turning Light into Fuel

An entirely human-made architecture produces hydrogen fuel using light, shows promise for transmitting energy in numerous applications.

Craters on Graphene: Electrons Impact

Novel defect control in graphene enables direct imaging of trapped electrons that follow Einstein's rules.

A Molecular Zipper for Efficient Gas Separation

Metal-organic frameworks with chains of iron centers adsorb and release carbon monoxide with very little energy input.


Spotlight

Tuesday October 03, 2017, 01:05 PM

Stairway to Science

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

After-School Energy Rush

Argonne National Laboratory

Thursday September 28, 2017, 10:05 AM

Bringing Diversity Into Computational Science Through Student Outreach

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thursday September 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday September 07, 2017, 02:05 PM

Students Discuss 'Cosmic Opportunities' at 45th Annual SLAC Summer Institute

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Thursday August 31, 2017, 05:05 PM

Binghamton University Opens $70 Million Smart Energy Building

Binghamton University, State University of New York

Wednesday August 23, 2017, 05:05 PM

Widening Horizons for High Schoolers with Code

Argonne National Laboratory

Saturday May 20, 2017, 12:05 PM

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Monday May 15, 2017, 01:05 PM

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University

Thursday September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM

Could Sorghum Become a Significant Alternative Fuel Source?

Salisbury University

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 11:15 AM

Students Navigating the Hudson River With Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 10:00 AM

College Presidents Flock to D.C., Urge Senate to Pass Clean Energy Bill

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Wednesday July 01, 2009, 04:15 PM

Northeastern Announces New Professional Master's in Energy Systems

Northeastern University

Friday October 12, 2007, 09:35 AM

Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

Kansas State University

Thursday August 17, 2006, 05:30 PM

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Rowan University





Showing results

0-4 Of 2215