Tuesday, July 13, 2004

so what is it you do again? 

Skip this if you have been traumatized by science.

Someone (I think it was Janelle) asked me what it is I actually do. So I will tell you. But for a funnier story, check out what I tell people at parties.

The geeky scientific explanation is that I study the regulation of homeologous recombination by the mismatch repair machinery.

To put it in a way that most normal people can understand: your DNA gets damaged all the time, from UV rays to your cells normal metabolism. One of the more serious injuries is a complete break - the DNA literally snaps in half (this can happen, for ex, when you get an X ray). If your cell can't repair that break, it will die. It CAN just stick the two ends together, but risks loss of genetic information in doing so. (the broken ends can get nibbled away by nasty enzymes) An alternative way to repair the break is to scan the rest of the DNA looking for an exact match to the broken DNA sequence, and just copy off of that. But sometimes, it will try to do this with a sequence that's CLOSE to identical, but not exact. This is bad. Why? Trust me, it is. It can cause things like cancer. So, once again, the cell has a way to prevent repairing off of the wrong sequence, call the mismatch repair pathway. we know most of the major players in this pathway, but not all of them.

and THAT is what I do.

hey, are you sleeping? yes you are, you did the head-bob thing.


my next post will be about something interesting and juicy, i promise!