At each division, our DNA code and a whole machinery of supporting components has to be faithfully duplicated to maintain the cell's memory of its own identity.

The new technology reveals the dynamic events of this duplication process and the secrets of cellular memory.

"Our technology can isolate the small molecular building blocks that bind to our DNA strand and organise it into a stringent architecture. Importantly, this technology can follow the dynamic duplication processes in our cells and can, therefore, reveal the life cycle of these DNA-complexes", explained Constance Alabert from Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC) at University of Copenhagen.

Understanding the fundamental principles of how 'chromatin' is faithfully duplicated is essential to understand how our organism is developed and maintained, and also how diseases such as cancer arise.

If cells lose their chromatin memory, they can potentially develop into cancer cells and form tumours. Such a loss of what is also called 'epigenetic' memory is now known to be involved in almost all cancer types. Chromatin contains crucial information that tells our genes when to be active and when to be silent. Therefore, the entire chromatin structure has to be duplicated at each cell division to maintain a cell's memory of its own identity.

"With our new technology, we have identified 100 new molecular components that appear to be involved in the tightly regulated process of chromatin duplication and thereby maintenance of cell memory," noted associate professor Anja Groth.

The findings provide the first comprehensive resource to address fundamental questions regarding maintenance of cell identity, said the study published in journal Nature Cell Biology.


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