Artist’s impression showing XRCC4 and XLF proteins

Artist’s impression showing that, when a DNA double strand break occurs, XRCC4 and XLF proteins form sheaths that slide very swiftly into place along the double helix like nano-repair patrols. As soon as a break is detected, two XRCC4-XLF patrols each grip one of the broken ends and then link up almost like Velcro to hold the two parts of the DNA molecule together in order to repair it. This phenomenon has been observed and noted by researchers seeking to understand how this nano-machine detects and repairs such breaks, which are especially dangerous for the cells. If breaks in DNA strands are not repaired correctly, they cause modifications to genetic information that can cause serious disease such as cancers. This fundamental discovery will ultimately allow us to detect and thence treat leukaemia as well as a number of other rare genetic syndromes.

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