dnA-Team – Part 4 – Buffybot

My name is Lizz Thrall,
and I work on the Buffybot microscope. So I chose the Buffybot name because
microscopes in the lab had either been named after action heroes
or robots, and I thought that the Buffybot was actually both,
so I thought that was a nice way to kind of bridge that. She’s tough and powerful,
which I like to think my microscope is. Yeah I think currently the Buffybot
might be our only female microscope, so I think that was important
for diversity in the lab. I study a process called
translation synthesis, or TLS. So basically instead of trying
to fix the DNA damage during replication, TLS lets the cell continue replication
past the damage and then all the other DNA-repair
processes in the cell can come in and try to fix it later. So we look at these particular
enzymes that carry out TLS. And usually what we’ll do is
we’ll tag them with some kind of fluorescent molecule that we
can see in the microscope, and we’ll watch as these
enzymes move around, and from how they move we’ll
try to infer something about what they’re doing,
and we’ll see how that changes when we treat the cell
with DNA-damaging agents. Well, so there are a number of
reasons why TLS is important. There are actually quite a few
different enzymes that carry out TLS, both in bacteria and also in humans. And we know that in some cases
mutations in those enzymes can lead to disease. But although TLS is important,
you actually don’t want TLS enzymes to be too active. That can lead to other problems,
that can lead to increased mutations. And in fact, it’s been found that
in some cancer cells TLS enzymes are highly upregulated, and that
can lead to mutations and resistance to chemotherapy.

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