Damage to DNA is an issue for all cells, particularly in cancer, where the mechanisms that repair damage typically fail. The same agents that damage DNA also damage its sister molecule messenger RNA (mRNA), which ferries transcripts of the genes to the tens of thousands of ribosomes in each cell. But little attention has been paid to this damage.
The Zaher lab has found that that oxidative damage to a single base (bold X) on a messenger RNA (the jagged ribbon) can jam the cellular nanomachine (green) that translates the mRNA into protein (ribbon into beads).
By Diana Lutz