How Plants Avoid DNA Damage from UV Light–Nobel Laureate Aziz Sancar’s Lab Reveals First-Ever Repair Map of an Entire Multicellular Organism to Illuminate Inner Workings of Plant Kingdom’s Highly Efficient DNA Repair System

If the ultraviolet radiation from the sun damages human DNA to cause health problems, does UV radiation also damage plant DNA? The answer is yes, but because plants can't come in from the sun or slather on sunblock, they have a super robust DNA repair kit. Today, the Unversity of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine lab of 2015 Nobel laureate Aziz Sancar, MD, PhD, has published an exquisite study of this powerful DNA repair system in plants, which closely resembles a repair system found in humans and other animals. The study, published online on April 17, 2018 in Nature Communications, is the first repair map of an entire multicellular organism. It revealed that the "nucleotide excision repair" system works much more efficiently in the active genes of plants as compared to humans. And this efficiency depends on the day/night cycle. The open-access Nature Comminications article is titled “Genome-Wide Excision Repair in Arabidopsis Is Coupled to Transcription and Reflects Circadian Gene Expression Patterns.” "These findings advance our understanding of DNA repair mechanisms common among all organisms and may also have practical applications," said co-corresponding author Ogun Adebali, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Sancar lab. First author Onur Oztas, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Sancar lab, said, "DNA damage accumulating in a plant will impair its growth and development, so boosting the excision repair system could be a good strategy for improving crop yields." Dr.
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