Dr. Hare Awarded NIH Grant
Morehead State University has been awarded $198, 768 by the National Institutes of Health for a grant “Mechanisms of Action of UmuD in Regulation of DNA-Induced Genes in a umuC-deficient Bacterium.”
Dr. Janelle Hare, associate professor of biology in MSU’s Department of Biology and Chemistry, will be the project director.
According to Dr. Hare, the grant will aid in research to enhance the understanding of the mechanisms that human as well as bacterial cells use to repair their DNA.
“The long term goal of this type of research is to understand how cells respond to DNA damage,” said Dr. Hare. “Every creature, whether it’s a human or a bacterium, needs to have control systems in place to fix its DNA if it is damaged by carcinogens, too much sunlight, etc. The link between DNA damage and human health is well-established: various forms of colon, breast, and ovarian cancers are caused by not having the correct DNA repair proteins. One such protein is a polymerase that can make new DNA even when the cell’s original DNA is damaged. Similar polymerases exist in bacteria, yeast and humans, where defects in this polymerase cause skin cancer after too much exposure to ultraviolet light.”
The research will investigate novel functions of an unusual bacterial DNA damage response protein that is a component of an error-prone polymerase. The project has additional biomedical implications for bacterial disease, as the DNA damage triggered the “SOS response” in bacteria can be induced by antibiotic treatment and lead to the spread of antibiotic resistance and other virulence genes among bacteria.
“We’re studying this bacterial protein, and its system of DNA damage, because it shares many similarities with human systems, and it’s easy and fast to work with bacteria. The system of proteins we’re studying in this bacterium seems to be significantly different than what is seen in other bacteria, which means that what we’re looking at is a new way of responding to DNA damage. Our knowledge of what might be occurring in human, then, will be extended, and after we study this in bacteria, we’ll already have a leg up in trying to apply this to humans & see if this same new mechanism is occurring in us as well,” said Dr. Hare.
The project is funded through June 2012.