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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences and Medical School
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics

PI: Hideki Aihara

Crystallographic Studies of Site-specific DNA Recombination and Rearrangement Reactions

This researcher is interested in DNA recombination/rearrangement processes relevant to human health. Specifically, the project investigates the following processes: retroviral integration reactions by which retroviruses such as HIV-1 insert viral DNA into host chromosomes; V(D)J recombinations involved in the maturation of immune systems; and resolution of replicated hairpin telomeres in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and other pathogenic bacteria. X-ray crystallography is used to determine three-dimensional structures of protein-DNA complexes that represent intermediates of the DNA strand cutting and rejoining reactions. The structural information is crucial for mechanistic understanding of aforementioned processes, which may ultimately aid in the development of newer drugs and tools for gene therapy.