Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

How DNA can protect itself from the Sun

Scientists have developed a new method to understand how DNA protects itself from ultraviolet (UV) radiation by dissipating this radiation as heat energy at very high speeds.
How DNA can protect itself from the Sun
A lot is known about the function and structure of the DNA molecule, but much less is known about the dynamic processes of the molecule. One such dynamic process is the photoprotective mechanism by which DNA can protect itself from UV radiation.

DNA's photoprotective mechanism absorbs UV radiation and converts it to small, harmless amounts of heat at high speed. This protects DNA from UV-induced cancers and other UV-related diseases by reducing the free radicals produced by UV radiation.

The EU-funded UPDUS (Understanding photoprotection mechanisms in DNA by two-dimensional UV spectroscopy) project established a novel technique to better understand this photoprotective mechanism. The superfast mechanism is difficult to study, but the team developed advanced technologies to achieve the project's objectives.

To assess the transition of UV light to heat in DNA, UPDUS set up one of the world's first 2D spectroscopy systems to measure UV radiation. The researchers then developed a novel method to produce and control different types of UV radiation pulses.

Researchers used the radiation pulses to excite different DNA bases in solution, and measure the decay rates of the different nucleoside bases. With this data, they could better understand photoprotection and identify the mechanisms that lead to light-induced DNA damage.

The UPDUS study has opened the door for further investigations on DNA dynamics with these new experimental methods. This will also allow researchers to identify misfolding mechanisms in proteins, leading to a better understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Related information


DNA, UV radiation, UPDUS, photoprotection, spectroscopy
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