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Cellular Production Line
28 August 2015

Cellular Production Line

It could almost be a misplaced blob of porridge or a crunchy piece of popcorn. But this is a 3D-printed model of the enzyme DNA helicase and associated proteins. Scientists at the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC) create these models to help them to visualise how hundreds of tiny proteins come together inside our cells to form a complex 'machine', which copies the cell’s DNA. It's not yet known exactly how this machine works. Our DNA is stored as two strands joined together like a zip. Scientists know that DNA helicase unzips the strands by binding to one of them and pulling it through the centre of its ring. Now the CSC team has shown that DNA helicase can only do its job if another of the machine’s components, a protein called Cdc6, first clears the way. Cdc6 is crucial to keeping the cellular production line on track.

Find out more about this study, and read about the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre’s work on DNA replication.

Written by Deborah Oakley

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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