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Vitamin B2 may link DNA repair to the emergence of life

NSF Award:

Redox Photochemistry of Oxidized Bases in DNA and RNA  (University of Utah)

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Researchers in Cynthia Burrows' laboratory at the University of Utah have found that 8-oxoguanosine (8-oxoG), a simple derivative of guanosine, has properties similar to those of riboflavin, an essential vitamin that plays a role in metabolism and in DNA repair. Specifically, the Burrows lab found that 8-oxoG can repair photochemical damage in DNA upon blue light absorption in a manner similar to photolyases, enzymes that contain flavin adenine dinucleotide as a required, light-harvesting co-factor (A co-factor is a non-protein chemical compound required for the protein's biological activity).

The similarity between the properties of 8-oxoG and those of riboflavin suggests that the present-day vitamin riboflavin may have evolved chemically from an oxidized DNA/RNA base, linking DNA repair with the prebiotic chemistry of life. Understanding how life emerged on Earth is one of the most intriguing questions facing science.  By showing that a product of DNA damage has properties similar to those of vitamin B2, the Burrows' lab establishes a product of DNA repair as a possible evolutionary step towards enzyme cofactors that exist today.

Images (1 of )

  • blue light helps 8-oxoG repair photochemical damage, mimicking flavin a vitamin critical to dna repair
  • similarities between 8-oxoG and riboflavin suggest the origins of this present-day vitamin
8-oxoG can repair photochemical damage in DNA with the help of blue light.
Cynthia Burrows, University of Utah
Similarities between 8-oxoG and riboflavin suggest the latter could have evolved from an oxidized DNA/RNA base.
Cynthia Burrows, University of Utah

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