Author Information

James McIsaac


We are under constant assault from forces capable of damaging our DNA. The genetic code of DNA is made up of four nucleotides: adenine (A) which bonds with thymine (T) and guanine (G) which bonds with cytosine (C). If something happens to upset this normal pairing or the nucleotides themselves, our body must spring to action and respond to the damage. When damage to nucleotides prevents the normal replication machinery from doing its job, enzymes like the Y-family polymerases are called in. A special mechanism allows them to identify damage and insert the correct nucleotide or bypass the lesion to continue replicating a new strand of DNA. If not bypassed correctly, the result is a mutation in our genetic code that could lead to cancer. Understanding how our body reacts to genetic damage on a molecular level, will aid the development of future anti-cancer therapies.

Note on the Author

James McIsaac is a senior pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Biochemistry. This paper originated as an in-class research assignment in Cell Biology, with Dr. Boriana Marintcheva. The subject matter is related to the research he conducts in the Biochemistry Research Lab.

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